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Irish Abroad: Shane Long on target as Jack Byrne makes mark in Holland

By Shane Costello | Updated: Monday, 29 Feb 2016 12:15 | Comments

Shane Long scored his seventh league goal of the season against Chelsea
Shane Long scored his seventh league goal of the season against Chelsea

This weekend saw Shane Long put the ball past Thibaut Courtois, something that we hope to see in less than 16 weeks from now when Ireland face Belgium on 18 June.

In the meantime, here is your comprehensive guide to the Irish players in action over the weekend as Euro 2016 draws even closer.

Good Weekend: Jack Byrne

On-loan Manchester City midfielder Jack Byrne put in a man-of-the match performance as he scored a late winner for Dutch side SC Cambuur on Saturday night. It ended a run of seven straight defeats for Cambuur and lifted them off the bottom of the Eredivisie table.

Bad Weekend: Ciaran Clark

Despite Aston Villa conceding six goals against Liverpool in their last Premier League match, Ciaran Clark still couldn’t manage to force his way into Remi Garde’s starting line-up this weekend.

Clark hasn’t started any of Villa’s last eight Premier League matches, his last start coming in the away defeat to Norwich at the end of December.

5 things we learned this weekend

1 Shane Long is on course for his best goal tally in a single Premier League season. Saturday’s goal against Chelsea was his seventh of the season; his previous best is eight goals for West Brom in the 2012/13 season. 

2 Adam Rooney has been ruled out for six weeks after injuring his thigh in training, meaning he is almost certain to miss Ireland’s friendlies in March. The Aberdeen striker has scored 19 times in 34 appearances so far this season, including 13 in his last 16 games. 

3 James McClean may struggle to regain his place in West Brom’s starting line-up after the Baggies scored three goals in a league match for only the second time in two seasons. Tony Pulis started with a front three of Stephane Sessegnon, Saido Berahino and Salomón Rondón, leaving the Derry man on the bench. 

4 Aiden McGeady moved to Sheffield Wednesday to get more game time after failing to play a single second of football in the Premier League this season for Everton. The move seems to be working as the former Celtic winger started his first back-to-back league games since November 2014. 

5 Anthony Pilkington’s form is pushing Cardiff City closer to the play-offs and his double from the penalty spot this weekend will only enhance his chances to impress in the March friendlies.   

Quote of the weekend - Padraig Amond (Grimsby Town)

Nobody in England has scored more goals this season than Padraig Amond, with the former Shamrock Rovers striker netting 24 goals in the National League (formerly the Conference).

Speaking to RTÉ Sport, Amond said: "It's been a bit of a dream season so far for me and I'm hoping the goals don't dry up any time soon. This year is the first season since I left Sligo Rovers where I have had a sustained run as a striker and not as a winger so I think that's the main reason why I am scoring so regularly being back in my natural position and being full of confidence.”

The weekend in numbers

Premier League: 7 starters
Defenders (3): John O’Shea (Sunderland), Damien Delaney (Crystal Palace), Robbie Brady (Norwich City)
Midfielders (2): Harry Arter (Bournemouth), Glenn Whelan (Stoke City)
Forwards (2): Jon Walters, (Stoke City), Shane Long (Southampton)
Substitute appearances: Midfielder:James McClean (West Brom)
Goals (1): Shane Long (Southampton)

Championship: 25 starters
Goalkeepers (2): Stephen Henderson (Charlton Athletic), Keiren Westwood (Sheffield Wednesday)
Defenders (7): Cyrus Christie (Derby County), Shane Duffy (Blackburn Rovers), Richard Keogh (Derby County), Paul McShane (Reading), Matt Doherty (Wolves), Greg Cunningham (Preston), Stephen Ward (Burnley).
Midfielders (13): Alan Browne (Preston), Jeff Hendrick (Derby County), David Meyler (Hull City), Kevin Foley (Ipswich Town), Jonathan Douglas (Ipswich Town), Darren Potter (MK Dons), Samir Carruthers (MK Dons), Lee Frecklington (Rotherham United), Stephen Gleeson (Birmingham City), Darragh Lenihan (Blackburn Rovers), Stephen Quinn (Reading), Aiden McGeady (Sheffield Wednesday), Alan Judge (Brentford)
Forwards (3): Anthony Pilkington (Cardiff City), Leon Best (Rotherham United), Daryl Murphy (Ipswich Town)
Substitute appearances (2): Midfield: Paul Green (Rotherham) Forward: Joe Mason (Wolves)
Goals (4): Anthony Pilkington (2, Cardiff City), Samir Carruthers (MK Dons), Alan Judge (Brentford) 

Premier League round-up

Southampton striker Shane Long scored his 10th goal of the season against Chelsea before going off with an injury midway through the second-half, with the Saints still leading. The Irish striker delicately clipped the ball over Belgium’s Thibaut Courtois after seizing upon a mistake by Baba Rahman.

That was the Tipperary man’s seventh goal in the league and could have equalled his Premier League season-best total earlier in the first-half when his towering header went over the crossbar. Chelsea fought back to win 2-1.

John O’Shea’s run without a clean sheet in the league extended to 13 games as the Black Cats lost 1-0 away at West Ham, who had Darren Randolph on the bench.

Irish manager Martin O’Neill was at the King Power Stadium as Leicester grabbed a last-gasp winner against Norwich City.

The former Norwich and Leicester manager would have been disappointed to see Wes Hoolahan miss the game with a slight knock but Robbie Brady started his 26th league game of the season.  

Nobody has had more attempts on goal this season for Norwich than Brady (40) but he will be looking to improve on his return of two goals.

Glenn Whelan continued his run of being the only Irish player to start every league game this season as Stoke City beat bottom-of-the-table Aston Villa.

Jon Walters started as the main striker but he has now gone six matches without scoring as Bojan Krkic, Mame Biram Diouf and Joselu wait in the wings. Shay Given and Marc Wilson remain sidelined through injury.

Ciaran Clark stayed on Aston Villa’s bench with Remi Garde keeping faith with Joleon Lescott and Jores Okore at the centre of the basement side's defence.

There was also bad news for James McClean at The Hawthorns as the former Sunderland winger was dropped to West Brom’s bench as the Baggies scored three first-half goals against Crystal Palace but he did come on with 15 minutes to go.

Damien Delaney started for Palace for the 21st time in the league this season. His header helped set up Conor Wickham for Palace’s first goal after hesitant defending by Swedish defender Jonas Olsson. 

The performance of Crystal Palace’s defence may not have helped Delaney’s international credentials but he has been a vital part of their side for the last couple of seasons. Only Whelan (27) and Brady (26) have started more games than Delaney this season, with fellow Irish defenders Clark and Wilson only starting nine times and once respectively.

At Vicarage Road, a fine Heurelho Gomes save denied Harry Arter his second Premier League goal. A swerving attempt from the Irish midfielder was heading for the top corner before the Brazilian got a touch to push it wide in the 0-0 draw.

Arter returned to the Bournemouth starting line-up after being rested in the FA Cup last weekend. Eunan O’Kane, who started that tie against Everton, was left out of the match-day squad.

Football League round-up

On Friday night, Aiden McGeady started two consecutive league games for the first time in 15 months. The winger came off after 64 minutes, and has been substituted just after the hour mark in his three Sheffield Wednesday starts so far as he regains his match fitness.

His team-mate Keiren Westwood kept his seventh clean sheet in 24 Championship matches with David Meyler starting for Hull in the goalless draw.

Derby’s Irish trio of Cyrus Christie, Richard Keogh and Jeff Hendrick all started as the Rams lost ground to their promotion-chasing rivals in a 2-1 defeat at Wolves.

Matt Doherty has been an ever-present for Wolves in 2016, starting all 11 games. The versatile defender, who can play in both full-back positions started at left-back on Saturday and it was his whipped cross that set up George Saville for the winner. Striker Joe Mason came on for Wolves late in the game as his side ended a seven-game winless run.

There was plenty of Irish interest at Ewood Park as Blackburn Rovers entertained relegation-threatened MK Dons. Rovers started with Shane Duffy in the centre of their defence with Darragh Lenihan anchoring the midfield.

It’s been a great couple of weeks for the 21-year-old midfielder from Dunboyne, who has had an extended run in the Blackburn team and whose form has been rewarded with a new three-and-a-half-year contract.

However, it was another Irish midfielder that opened the scoring when Samir Carruthers hit a superb shot from the edge of the box to open his Championship account for the season.

Darren Potter started for the Dons, who went on to lose the game 3-2 and are now just three points clear of the relegation zone.

Anthony Pilkington could be a dark horse to be included in Martin O’Neill’s final Euro 2016 squad if his fine form continues.

The former Norwich man scored twice from the spot as the Bluebirds overcame promotion rivals Preston 2-1 in Cardiff.

Pilkington won the first penalty after good combination play on the wing saw him break free, before being fouled in the box.

Pilkington's second penalty, for his eighth league goal of the season, was as emphatic as his first, illustrating the confidence of the 27-year-old.

Greg Cunningham, who has been operating as a left wing-back for Preston, showed great movement and awareness to set up Callum Robinson for a late consolation.

Alan Browne also started for the Lilywhites and was booked late in the second-half.

Stephen Henderson’s Charlton Athletic remain bottom of the table after the Addicks conceded four goals, including a stoppage-time winner, against Reading.

Captain Paul McShane started for Reading while Stephen Quinn hit the crossbar early in the first-half for the Royals, who nearly let the three points slip away before grabbing a late winner.

Mick McCarthy’s Ipswich Town ended their run of three consecutive defeats with a 1-0 win at Huddersfield Town. The Tractor Boys are now just four points outside the play-off places with a game in hand.

Daryl Murphy started for Ipswich and his industrious work allowed Ben Pringle to pop up with Ipswich’s winner. That assist was Murphy’s fourth of the season but the striker has only scored twice in his last 15 games.

Kevin Foley, who was infamously dropped from Ireland’s Euro 2012 squad at the last minute by Giovanni Trapattoni, started in midfield alongside Jonathan Douglas. Goalkeeper Joe Murphy was on the bench for Huddersfield.

Defenders Alex Pearce and Derrick Williams remained on Bristol City’s bench as the Robins beat Nottingham Forest 2-1 to continue their good form under new manager Lee Johnson.  

Pearce started his first league match of the season in the midweek game against Brighton in the absence of the injured Nathan Baker, but the 4-0 loss would not have helped the Irish defender to get more game time before Euro 2016.

Andy Reid shows no sign of making comeback for Nottingham Forest, having not played since September 2014 due to a serious groin injury.

Neil Warnock’s Rotherham United had four former Irish internationals in their matchday squad for their 2-1 win over against Alan Judge’s Brentford.

Former Ireland ‘B’ international Lee Frecklington provided an assist for Rotherham’s first goal. Rotherham also started with Leon Best in attack and Paddy Kenny, Stephen Kelly and Paul Green on the bench.

Judge scored his 14th goal of the season at the New York Stadium but it wasn’t enough as Rotherham claimed a priceless victory in their battle against the drop.

Judge scored the follow-up of his own missed penalty and his importance to the side is reflected by the fact he has scored or assisted 47% of Brentford’s goals in the league.

Brentford’s promotion hopes look all but over as they drop to 14th and 12 points below the play-off spots. 

Stephen Ward started at left-back as Burnley came from behind to beat Neil Lennon’s Bolton 2-1 and go top of the Championship table.

Meanwhile, Stephen Gleeson started his 32nd Championship game of the season for Birmingham City, who lost 2-0 away to QPR.

On Monday evening, Chris Hughton’s Brighton aim to close the gap on the top two when they take on Leeds United.

In League One, Dundalk native Emmanuel Osadebe scored a late consolation for Gillingham against Chesterfield. It was the 19-year-old’s second goal of the season.

Manchester City-loanee Ian Lawlor was on the wrong end of a 3-0 scoreline for Bury against Wigan, while fellow goalkeeper David Forde was once again an unused sub for Millwall.

The former Irish no 1 has not started a league match since the start of January, having been on the bench for the last eight league matches.

John Sheridan’s Oldham Athletic overcame a Peterborough United side without the injured Chris Forrester.

In League Two, Graham Carey’s 47th-minute goal was enough for Plymouth to see off the challenge of Notts County and cement their place in the League Two promotion places. It was the former Bohemians midfielder’s ninth of the season.

Outside of the UK, Cillian Sheridan scored his 10th goal of the season for Cypriot side Omonia Nicosia in a  4-1 victory over Enosis, while Andy Keogh scored his fourth goal in five matches in the A-League in Australia.

However, Keogh's penalty wasn’t enough to prevent Perth Glory from losing to Western Sydney Wanderers.

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