By Ronan Murphy
Martin O'Neill returned James McClean to the wing for the first time in three games, and was rewarded with a goal from the Irishman as Sunderland recorded a 3-0 win over West Ham United. The Derry wideman struck from an acute angle with 16 minutes to go to seal the win for the Black Cats.
It wasn't a good day for any of the Irish players at Stoke City, who were on the receiving end of a 4-0 thumping by Chelsea, but Jonathan Walters had an especially torrid afternoon, scoring two own goals before missing a late penalty on his 100th Premier League appearance.
Republic of Ireland manager Giovanni Trapattoni travelled to the Falmer Stadium to watch Brighton & Hove Albion in action against Derby County. Ireland under-21 international Jeff Hendrick netted a consolation goal for the Rams in a 2-1 defeat, with Gary Dicker, Richard Keogh, Mark O'Brien, and Conor Sammon also featuring in the game.
Bolton Wanderers and Millwall played out a 1-1 draw with both goals coming from the spot. Andy Keogh cheekily converted his penalty kick with a chip in the 9th minute before fellow Ireland international Keith Andrews equalised past David Forde from 12 yards.
For the second league game in a row, Paddy Madden scored twice for Yeovil Town, guiding them to a 2-0 win over Sheffield United. Madden scored twice from close range in the second half, taking his tally for the season to 12 goals.
Harry Arter opened the scoring as AFC Bournemouth drew 1-1 with Swindon Town. In-form James Collins went close to equalising for the visitors, but could not continue his scoring streak after bagging five goals in his last two outings.
A long-range strike from Jimmy Ryan helped Scunthorpe United defeat Colchester United 2-1 and move out of the League One relegation zone, moving two points ahead of the U's into 20th position.
John O'Flynn scored his eighth and ninth goals of the season as Exeter City beat Southend United 3-0, but the match began with controversy after fellow Irishman Barry Corr had a header chalked off. O'Flynn's second came three minutes from time after unselfish play from Jimmy Keohane left the striker with a simple tap-in.
John-Joe O'Toole helped Bristol Rovers to a rare win with an 18-yard-goal in a 3-0 win over Fleetwood Town, but Rovers remain rooted to the bottom of the table.
New Plymouth Argyle manager John Sheridan began his Pilgrims progress with a deserved 2-1 win over Morecambe, with Ireland under-21 international and Plymouth captain Conor Hourihane opening the scoring after just 10 minutes.
Jay O'Shea scored his first goal since permanently signing for Chesterfield, grabbing the opener in a 3-0 victory against Northampton Town.
Liam Lawrence picked up a booking for PAOK as they drew 0-0 with third-placed Atromitos in the Greek Super League.
A win for PAOK would have opened the gap between second and third to eight points, while leaders Panathinaikos drew 0-0 with PAS Giannina.
|IRISH XI OF THE WEEKEND
Goalkeeper: Graham Stack (Barnet)
Defenders: James Berrett (Carlisle), Alex Pearce (Reading), Richard Keogh (Derby), Damien Delaney (Crystal Palace)
Midfielders: James McClean (Sunderland), Jimmy Keohane (Exeter), Jeff Hendrick (Derby), Andy Keogh (Millwall)
Forwards: John O'Flynn (Exeter), Paddy Madden (Yeovil)