Here is your comprehensive guide to how the Irish players abroad got on this weekend, with goals galore in England’s top four divisions.
Good weekend: Shane Duffy (Blackburn Rovers)
Shane Duffy rewarded Paul Lambert’s decision to restore him to the Blackburn Rovers starting line-up on Saturday by scoring the only goal of the game at Rotherham, but it was the overall defensive performance from the 24-year-old that earned him the plaudits on Saturday.
Bad weekend: Eunan O’Kane (Bournemouth)
Although the return of Harry Arter to Bournemouth’s starting line-up may be welcome news to Ireland fans, it has severely dented the hopes of his team-mate Eunan O’Kane making Martin O’Neill’s final 23-man squad. O’Kane hasn’t featured for the Cherries in four weeks.
FIVE THINGS WE LEARNED THIS WEEKEND
1 There was finally some good news on the injury front for Martin O’Neill after weeks of mounting concerns as Harry Arter, Jonathan Walters and Adam Rooney all made a return to first-team action over the weekend.
Rooney scored his 20th goal of the season on Saturday before being taken off as a precaution. Walters played the last 35 minutes for Stoke against Sunderland on his return from a knee op.
2 There was some good news on the defensive front too as 19-year-old Kevin Toner of Aston Villa and 21-year-old Brian Lenihan of Hull City made their full debuts for their clubs over the weekend.
3 There were goals aplenty in the Championship for Irish players with Shane Duffy, Stephen Gleeson, Stephen Quinn, Joe Mason and David McGoldrick all finding the back of the net. Mason had not scored in 12 games before Saturday and it was a first goal in 19 matches for McGoldrick.
4 Reading manager Brian McDermott heaped praise on 17-year-old midfielder Josh Barrett after his second-half display against Preston. "He was brave, got on the ball, created stuff. He made things happen. He’s 17 years of age, but he acquitted himself well - he’s going to be a good talent. He's been training with us and he wants to work hard. Today, he was a shining light,” McDermott told the club’s website.
5 Jack Byrne has suffered relegation in his first season in senior football with Cambuur in the Netherlands, but another sensational strike from the young Dubliner in the 6-2 loss at PSV Eindhoven makes O’Neill’s decision on whether to include him or not in the May friendlies an even harder one.
THE WEEKEND IN NUMBERS
Premier League: 11 starters
Defenders (3): Kevin Toner (Aston Villa), Ciaran Clark (Aston Villa), Damien Delaney (Crystal Palace)
Midfielders (7): Darron Gibson (Everton), James McCarthy (Everton), Glenn Whelan (Stoke City), Harry Arter (Bournemouth), Wes Hoolahan (Norwich), Robbie Brady (Norwich), James McClean (West Brom)
Forwards (1): Shane Long (Southampton)
Substitute appearances (1): Jonathan Walters (Stoke City)
Unused substitutes (3): Darren Randolph (West Ham), John O’Shea (Sunderland), EunanO’Kane (Bournemouth)
Goals: Ciaran Clark (Aston Villa), Shane Long (Southampton)
Championship: 21 starters
Goalkeepers (1): Keiren Westwood (Sheffield Wednesday)
Defenders (9): Brian Lenihan (Hull City), Matt Doherty (Wolves), Stephen Kelly (Rotherham United), Paul McShane (Reading), Alex Pearce (Bristol City), Derrick Williams (Bristol City), Shane Duffy (Blackburn Rovers), Kevin Long (MK Dons), Greg Cunningham (Preston)
Midfielders (7): Lee Frecklington (Rotherham United), Darren Potter (MK Dons), Samir Carruthers (MK Dons), Alan Browne (Preston), Stephen Gleeson (Birmingham City), Stephen Quinn (Reading), Darragh Lenihan (Blackburn Rovers)
Forwards (4): Leon Best (Rotherham United), David McGoldrick (Ipswich Town), Anthony Pilkington (Cardiff), Joe Mason (Wolves)
Substitute appearances (3): Sean Scannell (Huddersfield Town), Josh Barrett (Reading), Eoin Doyle (Preston)
Unused substitutes (5): Jack Bonham (Brentford), Paddy Kenny (Rotherham United), Paul Green (Rotherham United), Kevin Foley (Ipswich Town),Adam McDonnell (Ipswich Town)
Goals: Shane Duffy (Blackburn Rovers), Stephen Gleeson (Birmingham City), Stephen Quinn (Reading), Joe Mason (Wolves), David McGoldrick (Ipswich Town)
PREMIER LEAGUE ROUND-UP
Injuries and suspensions for Everton have now helped pave the way for Darron Gibson to start three out of the last four games for the Toffees. The Derry man had previously started just two games all the season.
The 28-year-old put in another solid performance alongside the industrious James McCarthy in the 2-1 victory over Bournemouth. Everton were without the injured Seamus Coleman with no date specified for a return to action.
There was better news on the injury front as Harry Arter returned to play the full 90 minutes for the Cherries at Goodison Park, as he aims to prove his fitness before the end of the season. It was the first time the Irish midfielder has featured for Eddie Howe’s side in six weeks.
Eunan O’Kane’s Euro 2016 dream, however, could be drifting away, despite impressing in the March friendlies for Ireland. O’Kane has only played for Bournemouth once since then, being an unused substitute for the last four games.
Damien Delaney started for Crystal Palace at Newcastle as the Magpies secured a precious victory against their former manager Alan Pardew to boost their survival hopes.
The 34-year-old has now started 31 out of Crystal Palace’s last 32 matches, only missing the scoreless draw against Swansea at the end of December during the period.
John O’Shea celebrated his 35th birthday on Saturday but had to settle for a place on the bench as Sunderland snatched a late point against Stoke City at the Britannia Stadium. The Irish defender has only had 23 minutes of first-team football in the past eight weeks for Sam Allardyce’s side.
Glenn Whelan is having no such trouble in the Stoke team. The Clondalkin man has started all but one of Stoke’s Premier League matches and did so again against the Black Cats on Saturday.
In a welcome boost for Martin O’Neill, Jon Walters came off the bench to play 35 minutes having been ruled out for the past six weeks and played a part in Stoke nearly doubling their lead.
Marc Wilson was also hoping to feature in the game but the defender suffered a slight injury setback as he limped out of the behind-closed-doors friendly against Crewe on Tuesday.
Injury today not as bad as first thought. Was my first real tough tackle so had some pain with it which Is expected.— marc wilson (@wildog87) April 26, 2016
Shay Given also missed the game after picking up a groin injury in last weekend’s match at Manchester City, but the 40-year-old could yet feature before the end of the Premier League season.
Norwich’s Irish duo of Robbie Brady and Wes Hoolahan both started as the Canaries lost 1-0 to Arsenal at the Emirates, however neither player finished the match despite Norwich being in desperate need of an equaliser.
Brady faces the prospect of being relegated for the second successive season after being part of the Hull team that went down last year, while Hoolahan has already experienced Premier League relegation with Norwich in 2014.
Saturday’s game was Hoolahan’s 23rd start in the Premier League this season but his first start in seven matches, when Norwich lost 1-0 at Swansea at the start of March.
Ciaran Clark headed home his second goal of the season before Watford scored two goals in stoppage time to beat 10-man Aston Villa.
Kevin Toner did not look out of place on his full Premier League debut, and his committed approach has already endeared him to the Villa fans.
James McClean endured a frustrating afternoon at the Hawthorns as West Ham eased to a 3-0 win over West Brom, with the former Wigan midfielder replaced just after the hour mark by Saido Berahino.
Darren Randolph was on the bench for West Ham, and is unlikely to play again until Ireland take on the Netherlands at the end of the month.
Shane Long’s goal tally in the Premier League went into double figures for the first time in his career as he scored his 10th league goal of the season against Manchester City. That strike in the 4-2 win was his 100th goal in English football.
Shane Duffy scored his fourth goal of the season in Blackburn’s 1-0 win at Rotherham in what was an impressive performance from the former Everton defender.
Tough game today had to dig deep but happy with the points, well done to the fans brilliant again . @OneRovers— Shane Duffy (@ShaneDuffy34) April 30, 2016
It was another strong showing from Darragh Lenihan in the middle of the field on his 17th league start of the season.
Leon Best started against his former club and missed a glorious chance to equalise just before the break.
Stephen Kelly and Lee Frecklington also started for Rotherham as the Millers lost for the first time in 11 league matches.
Stephen Quinn scored his first goal in nearly a year and his first for Reading as the Royals lost 2-1 at home to Preston.
Paul McShane returned from a ban to start for Brian McDermott’s side, while 17-year-old midfielder Josh Barrett came on at the second half to make his second appearance for the club.
An injury forced Greg Cunningham off midway through the second-half for Preston as Alan Browne completed 90 minutes in his 26th Championship start of the season. Former Sligo Rovers striker Eoin Doyle was introduced late on for the Lilywhites.
It was 13th-time lucky for Joe Mason as the former Ireland U21 forward ended his barren run in front of goal with a neat finish against Nottingham Forest for Wolves, who will face Cork City in a pre-season friendly on 18 July.
It was his 10th goal of the season, having scored three goals for Cardiff in the first part of the season. Matt Doherty started at right-back for Kenny Jackett’s side in the 1-1 draw.
Mick McCarthy’s Ipswich Town won for the first time in eight attempts after beating already-relegated MK Dons 3-2 at Portman Road.
David McGoldrick scored the opening goal of the game, his first goal since scoring against Brighton in August - a run of 18 games in an injury-disrupted season. Adam McDonell and Kevin Foley were unused substitutes for the Tractor Boys.
Kevin Long featured for the first time for the Dons since joining on-loan from Burnley in March, starting in the heart of the defence.
The 25-year-old also had a spell with Barnsley this season, as he started alongside Darren Potter and Samir Carruthers on Saturday.
Derrick Williams got the chance to impress new Bristol City manager Lee Johnson for the first time, as the defender started in the Robins’ 4-0 romp over Huddersfield.
Alex Pearce also started in defence, in what was only his eight appearance in all competitions this season.
Sean Scannell was introduced by the Terriers in the second-half, the ninth time he came off the bench this season.
Sheffield Wednesday ensured their place in the play-offs with a 3-0 win over seventh place Cardiff City. Aiden McGeady wasn’t included in the matchday squad as Keiren Westwood kept his 12th clean sheet in the Championship this season.
Cardiff’s Anthony Pilkington picked up a knock early in the first-half and was replaced after 20 minutes.
Injury ruled Stephen Henderson out of Charlton’s trip to Leeds. The Addicks will be in League One next season but did earn a 2-1 win at Elland Road.
It may be worthwhile keeping an eye on Irish-qualified striker Scott Hogan in the coming months, after the 24-year-old striker netted his fifth goal in three games as Brentford beat Fulham 3-0. Hogan scored twice in the first period before being taken off as a precaution at half-time.
Right-back Brian Lenihan made his debut for Hull City as the Tigers lost 1-0 to basement club Bolton Wanderers.
The 21-year-old joined Hull from Cork City in 2014 and was granted the chance to stake a claim in the side with Steve Bruce’s side already guaranteed a play-off place.
Delighted to make my debut for @HullCity today ?? great experience!— Brian Lenihan (@brian_lenihan12) April 30, 2016
Lenihan would have been annoyed he didn’t close down Stephen Dobbie quicker for the goal. The Cork man, however, did manage to clear a goal-bound effort of the line and was adventurous going forward.
David Meyler was missing from Hull’s matchday squad.
Stephen Gleeson scored his fifth goal of the season for Birmingham in the 2-2 draw with Middlesbrough on Friday night.
His sweetly struck strike opened the scoring, although replays show Middlesbrough goalkeeper Dimitrios Konstantopoulos may have been unsighted.
It’s an impressive goalscoring return for the defensive midfielder, having failed to find the back of the net in his debut campaign with the Blues last season.
Boro’s rivals for the automatic places can take advantage of Middlesbrough’s dropped points when they play on Monday afternoon – Chris Hughton’s Brighton take on Derby County while Burnley host QPR.
Derby have already secured their place in the play-offs and last week Richard Keogh was named their Player of the Year while Cyrus Christie was named their Young Player of the Year.
A win for Brighton would mean the Seagulls will only need a draw when they travel to Middlesbrough on the final day of the season to earn promotion to the Premier League for the first time.
LEAGUE ONE ROUND-UP
Chris McCann scored for the second successive weekend as Wigan sealed promotion straight back to the Championship with a 4-0 win at Blackpool. Colin Doyle was in goal for the Seasiders, who are on the brink of relegation to League Two.
Damien McCrory’s Burton Albion are on the verge of playing in the second tier of English football for the first time after a last-gasp win over John Egan’s Gillingham that put’s a dent in their own play-off aspirations.
Bradley Garmston was injured in the first-half for the Gills.
Conor Hourihane made his 39th league start of the season for Barnsley in their 2-2 draw at home to an already-relegated Colchester side including Owen Garvan.
Paddy Madden scored for the first time in six games to keep the Irons' play-off hopes alive with a 1-0 win over Port Vale.
The former Bohemians man headed home his 22nd goal of the season from a Stephen Dawson cross to leave Scunthorpe in seventh, just behind Barnsley on goal difference for the final play-off place, with Gillingham a further two points back.
Bradford City guaranteed themselves a place in the play-offs with a 1-0 win at Southend United. On-loan West Ham midfielder Josh Cullen started for the Bantams with Billy Clarke on the bench.
David Forde was among the subs as Millwall comfortably beat Oldham 3-0 with Aiden O’Brien providing his fifth assist in League One this season with a lovely flick, having already contributed nine goals this campaign.
Former Bray Wanderers and Galway United midfielder Jay O’Shea was involved in all three of Chesterfield’s goals against Bury – providing two assists on top of scoring a penalty. That’s now nine goals and seven assists in the league for the 27-year-old. Ian Lawlor was on the bench for Bury.
Stephen Hunt started his first game for Coventry in nearly two months as the Sky Blues beat Sheffield United 3-1.
Connor Sammon started for the Blades but failed to add to his five league goals for the season.
Fair play to the fans today,all dissatisfied with our form from January but that's football!! Enjoyed today and position— stephen hunt (@stephenhunt1010) April 30, 2016
Chris Forrester returned from suspension to make his 34th appearance in the league this season as the Posh beat Shrewsbury 4-3 thanks to a late winner, after initially conceding a three-goal lead.
Forrester’s deep-lying position in midfield has restricted the 23-year-old to just two goals and one assist in League One this season.
LEAGUE TWO ROUND-UP
Graham Carey scored his 12th goal of the season and his third in the last five games as he netted a stoppage time equaliser in Plymouth’s 2-2 draw with Cambridge United.
Seamus Conneely was part of the Accrington Stanley defence that kept a clean sheet in their 1-0 win at Wycombe, while Callum O’Dowda produced his third league assist of the season in Oxford’s 2-0 win at Carlisle United.
Kenny McEvoy scored his second goal of the season for relegated York City as they lost 4-1 at home to a Bristol Rovers team that contained Rory Gaffney.
Accrington, Oxford United and Bristol Rovers will all fight for the final two remaining automatic places on the final day of the season.
Northampton Town celebrated lifting the League Two with a 2-0 victory over Luton Town. John-Joe O’Toole produced his second assist of the season in the game, having already scored 12 goals in the league.
Winger Jamie Devitt cemented his place at the top of the League Two assist table with his 16th assist of the season in Morecambe’s 1-1 draw with Exeter.
Enda Stevens is also having a productive season from left-back for Portsmouth; the former Shamrock Rovers man set up his ninth goal of the season in Pompey’s 2-0 win over Hartlepool.
Highly-rated 19-year-old defender Ryan Sweeney was also part of the AFC Wimbledon team that drew 0-0 at Stevenage. The Dons, along with Portsmouth, are guaranteed a place in the play-offs.
REST OF THE WORLD ROUND-UP
In the Scottish Premiership, Adam Rooney returned from 10 weeks out to score his 20th goal of the season in his 100th appearance for Aberdeen.
It’s the second season in a row that the 28-year-old has hit at least 20 goals for the Dons, but he had to come off late on as a precaution, having been introduced as a substitute himself late in the first-half.
Aberdeen’s Player of the Year Jonny Hayes got on the scoresheet in the 4-1 demolition of Motherwell with a fine solo goal.
Hayes’ sixth goal of the season comes after a week in which he was named in the PFA Scotland Premiership Team of the Year and nominated for the PFA Scotland Player of the Year before losing out to Celtic’s Leigh Griffiths.
Richie Foran produced a late assist as Inverness overcame Partick Thistle 4-1 while Galway’s Joe Shaughnessy helped set up Steven MacLean in St Johnstone’s win over Ross County.
In the Scottish Championship, Danny Rogers kept his 13th league clean sheet of the season in Falkirk’s 1-0 win over Morton to secure second place.
The Irish U21 goalkeeper, on-loan from Aberdeen has been named in the PFA Scotland Championship Team of the Year.
Delighted to be named @PFAScotland championship goalkeeper of the year ??— Danny Rogers (@DannyRogers7) April 29, 2016
Conrad Logan also kept a clean sheet in Hibernian’s 2-0 victory over Queen of the South but Anthony Stokes failed to get on the scoresheet, while Rob Kiernan started for Rangers as the champions ended their league campaign with a 2-2 draw at St Mirren.
Jack Byrne continues to shine for Cambuur in the Netherlands with another stunning strike, this time against PSV Eindhoven.
However, the Dubliner’s fourth goal of the season couldn’t prevent Cambuur from being relegated from the top flight as they went on to lose the game 6-2 on Sunday.
7 - Only Bartholomew Ogbeche (9G 2A) has more goals (4) and assists (3) for SC Cambuur than Jack Byrne this Eredivisie season. Prodigy.— OptaJohan (@OptaJohan) May 1, 2016
Cillian Sheridan continues to flourish in Cyprus after he netted his 15th league goal of the season when his Omonia side beat Nea Salamis 2-0 on Wednesday.
In MLS, Kevin Doyle started his first game since coming off in Ireland's friendly against Switzerland in Coloradio Rapids’ 2-2 draw with Montreal.
Robbie Keane is back training with LA Galaxy but was not included in their matchday squad against Sporting Kansas City.
Finally, former Cork City forward Roy O’Donovan was awarded the A-League’s Goal of the Season for his strike against Adelaide United.
Team of the weekend (3-5-2): Keiren Westwood (Sheffield Wednesday); Shane Duffy (Blackburn Rovers), Ciaran Clark (Aston Villa), Alex Pearce (Bristol City); Jonny Hayes (Aberdeen), Jack Byrne (Cambuur), Stephen Gleeson (Birmingham City), Josh Barrett (Reading), Stephen Quinn (Reading); Shane Long (Southampton), Joe Mason (Wolves)
Outside of the Premier League and the Championship only selected players are included.