By Rob Wright
Sunderland captain John O’Shea came back to earth with a crash following his Euro 2016 qualification heroics in Germany.
O’Shea celebrated his 100th international cap with a last-gasp goal for Ireland to earn a crucial 1-1 draw, but those memories quickly faded at the weekend as his Sunderland side suffered a humiliating 8-0 defeat against Southampton.
In what was his side’s heaviest ever Premier League defeat O’Shea was given the run around by a rampant Saints' attack and although his side were well beaten by that stage, his sloppy backpass allowed Southampton to score their sixth goal.
There was better news for the Irish contingent at Goodison Park, however, where Everton’s Seamus Coleman returned after suffering a concussion and scored the third goal in his side's 3-0 victory over Aston Villa.
James McCarthy also made a return to action for the Toffees after recovering from a quad-muscle injury and his presence in midfield gave Everton a solid platform to build from all afternoon.
Aston Villa’s Ciaran Clark also featured in that game, but he was unable to help salvage anything for the visitors after his first-half introduction from the bench.
Stoke’s Jonathan Walters played a decisive role in Stoke’s 2-1 victory over Swansea City on Sunday. The Irish forward came off the bench to head home the winner with 14 minutes to go, in a game where Stephen Ireland and Marc Wilson both started for the Potters.
In the Championship, Irish under-21 international Sean Kavanagh was the match-winner for Fulham as the London side edged to a 1-0 victory over Wes Hoolahan’s Norwich. Hoolahan was unable to make much of an impact and was taken off on the hour mark with an ankle injury as Kavanagh’s goal from the edge of the penalty area proved decisive.
All three of Birmingham’s Irish representatives were in action as they went down 1-0 to Bolton Wanderers. It was an afternoon to forget for Darren Randolph, who saw red for a bringing down Craig Davies in the penalty area, while Stephen Gleeson struggled to make an impact as was replaced after an hour. First-half substitute Calum Reilly fared better and produced a solid midfield display.
Irish senior goalkeeper David Forde was beaten three times during his side’s 3-3 draw with Wolves, but still managed to produce a fine injury-time save from a Barkary Sako free-kick to ensure his side took a share of the spoils.
Former Sporting Fingal and Drogheda United player Shaun Williams saw a red card for the foul on Lee Evans that led to that late chance for Wolves while Irish under-21 international Aiden O’Brien continues to cement his place in the Millwall side and again started.
Blackburn Rovers’ Shane Duffy helped his side to a 1-1 draw with Ipswich as he produced a late goal-line clearance to deny his international team-mate Stephen Hunt.
Conor Sammon played a role in the Ipswich goal drawing a foul from Mathew Kilgallon that earned him a second yellow card before David McGoldrick curled the dead ball to the back of the net.
At the DW Stadium Wigan’s James McClean and Brentford’s Jonathan Douglas had chances to claim a winner but neither were able to produce as their side played out a 0-0 draw.
Brentford were under the cosh for much of the game, but Douglas could have snatched the points when he fired into the side-netting late on, while McClean will rue a wasted injury-time opportunity as he headed over the crossbar from a James Tavernier cross while unmarked.
Huddersfield’s Sean Scannell continued his impressive recent form with a swash-bucking display in his side’s 4-2 victory over Blackpool. The 24-year-old winger had a hand in all three of his side’s opening goals in the first 16-minutes and was a constant threat for his side.
Down in League One, Ireland under-19 international and former Cork City player Alan Browne helped Preston North End stretch their unbeaten run to five games as he scored in their 2-0 victory over Port Vale.
Liam McAlinden continued his fine recent form for Fleetwood Town as he helped them to a 3-1 win against Doncaster Rovers.
McAlinden, on loan from Wolves, scored for the second successive game when he tapped home from close range on 37 minutes. The Ireland under-21 international then turned provider as he set-up David Ball for his side’s third.
In Scotland, Celtic put last week’s surprise 1-0 defeat to Hamilton Academical behind them as they strode to a convincing 5-0 victory over Ross County. Ireland international Anthony Stokes grabbed a brace of goals while it was a day to forget for Ross County defender Graham Carey as his former side ran rampant.
All three of Aberdeen’s Irish representatives featured in their side’s games against league leaders Hamilton Academical, but Willo Flood, Adam Rooney and Jonny Hayes could do little to stop their side falling to a 3-0 defeat. Rooney had a chance to level the score as his side trailed 1-0, but scuffed his shot when put through on goal before he failed to connect with Flood’s cross with an empty goal at his mercy.
Ranger’s Jon Daly was much more decisive in front of goal as he came off the bench to net twice in his side’s 6-1 Scottish Championship victory over Raith Rovers.
There were also plenty of goals for Andy Keogh in the Australian A-League as he claimed a hat-trick and turned in a match-winning display as Perth Glory overcame Brisbane Roar 3-2. Brisbane's Liam Miller did not feature after being dropped to the bench on the back of a poor performance against Adelaide.
Damien Duff started his second game for Melbourne City after joining them from Fulham, and helped to create several chances for his side, but City were wasteful in front of goal and it took a last-minute strike from David Villa to earn a 1-1 draw with Newcastle Jets.