By Ronan Murphy
After going 15 games without scoring, Stoke City and Ireland forward Jon Walters returned to the scoresheet with a double against Bolton Wanderers on the last day of the season. Walters opened the scoring with a dubious goal where he bundled into goalkeeper Adam Bogdan, before grabbing a late equaliser from the penalty spot.
Shane Long also found the net after a dry spell, hitting West Bromwich Albion's second in their 3-2 loss against Arsenal. The goal means Long has scored against four of the top six clubs this season, and has scored eight goals in total.
John O'Shea was forced off injured after just 43 minutes in Sunderland's game with Manchester United, but a scan has revealed that he should be fit in time for Euro 2012.
Birmingham City goalkeeper Colin Doyle was the only Irishman involved in the Championship playoffs semi final second-leg on Wednesday night, but should have done better for Stephen Dobbie's opener.
Midfielder Keith Fahey was forced to sit out the tie with a groin injury, and the 2-2 draw sends Blackpool into the final where they meet West Ham United.
West Ham's Joey O'Brien hasn't played since March with a thigh injury, while Stephen Henderson has yet to appear for the Hammers since joining on loan.
Blackpool have no senior Irishmen on their books.
Stevenage and Sheffield United played out a goalless draw in the first leg of the playoff semi final, with Stephen Quinn and Michael Doyle starting for the Blades. Quinn had a good chance to score at the end of the first half, but dragged his shot wide. Sheffield United looked the better of the two sides, and have home advantage in tonight's second leg.
Milton Keynes Dons went down 2-0 to Huddersfield at Stadium mk in the other semi-final first leg, leaving them needing to score at least twice on Tuesday. Alan Lee came off the bench for Huddersfield, while MK Dons started with a trio of Irishmen: Stephen Gleeson, Darren Potter, and Shaun Williams, as well as introducing Jay O'Shea on the hour mark. Ireland under-21 keeper Ian McLoughlin watched on from the bench.
In the League Two playoff first legs, Crewe Alexandra beat Southend United 1-0, and Cheltenham Town took a 2-0 lead against Torquay United. Southend midfielder Michael Timlin was the only Irishman in action on Saturday, while Ben Burgess scored Cheltenham's second on Sunday with Alan Bennett doing well in defence. Ian Morris and Eunan O'Kane both started for Torquay.
Dundee United's Jon Daly finished the season as runner-up in the top goalscorer chart, with 19 goals. He notched in his final goal of the campaign in Sunday's 2-0 win over Motherwell, but Gary Hooper's five-goal haul for Celtic against Hearts sees the Dubliner finish someway adrift of Hooper's 24 goals for the 2011-12 season.
Jonny Hayes scored Inverness Caledonian Thistle's second from the spot after a handball from Hibernian defender Matt Doherty to net his seventh goal of the season from midfield.
Spartak Moscow will be playing Champions League football next season thanks to a 2-0 win over Lokomotiv Moscow on the final day of the Russian Premier League season. Aiden McGeady had a hand in both goals, delivering the corner for the first and providing the cross for Spartak's second, which sees them overtake CSKA Moscow in the table to finish runners-up behind Zenit St Petersburg.
VVV Venlo midfielder Barry Maguire was also the provider for one of his club's four goals against Cambuur in a 4-3 win which sets up a Relegation Playoff Third Round tie with Helmond Sport. VVV will need to win over two legs to remain in the Eredivisie for 2012-13.
|IRISH XI OF THE WEEKEND
Defenders: David Van Zanten (St Mirren), Jim Goodwin (St Mirren), Alan Bennett (Cheltenham), Stephen Kelly (Fulham)
Midfielders: Aiden McGeady (Spartak Moscow), Jonny Hayes (Inverness), Barry Maguire (VVV)
Forwards: Jon Walters (Stoke), Shane Long (West Brom), Ben Burgess (Cheltenham)