By Ronan Murphy
Darron Gibson and Glenn Whelan faced off in midfield on Saturday as Everton hosted Stoke City at Goodison Park. Gibson had the better afternoon as the Toffees ran out 1-0 winners, but there was plenty of other Irish interest, with Seamus Coleman lining out for the hosts, and Marc Wilson keeping his place in the Stoke XI. Irish forward Jon Walters almost continued his international form, but saw his first-half shot come back off the crossbar.
Manchester United's 1-0 win at the Stadium of Light was Martin O'Neill's last game as Sunderland manager, with the Northern Irishman receiving his marching orders on Saturday evening. Ireland international James McClean will be hoping to impress new manager Paolo Di Canio, while Keiren Westwood will also stake his claim for the number one jersey under the new boss.
Kevin Doyle scored 20 minutes from time to give Wolverhampton Wandererers another crucial win in their bid for survival. The Wexford-native headed in the winner in Wolves' 3-2 win over Middlesbrough to leave Dean Saunders' side level with Peterborough United in the table.
On Friday, Derby County recorded a comfortable 3-0 win over Bristol City with Ireland international midfielder Jeff Hendrick opening the scoring for the Rams. The 21-year-old volleyed in before getting an assist on the third, while Conor Sammon was also in fine form, setting up Jamie Ward's goal.
Alan Dunne scored his first goal in three years to help Millwall overcome Leicester City in a 1-0 win. Andy Keogh won a penalty early on for the visitors, but former Ireland under-21 defender Shane Lowry saw his penalty kick saved. At the other end, David Forde was impressive in goal, and pulled off some great saves to help Millwall to all three points.
Niall Canavan's headed goal saw Scunthorpe United move out of the relegation zone with a 2-1 win over Leyton Orient. The Ireland under-21 international took his tally to five goals for the season, making him the third highest scorer at Glanford Park.
Substitute Adam Rooney bagged his second goal in three games with an acrobatic effort to give Swindon Town a 1-1 draw with Oldham Athletic. James Collins also went close late on with Swindon now two points from automatic promotion.
Preston North End's Keith Keane scored his first goal for his club by volleying in 13 minutes from time in a 1-1 draw with Portsmouth. Pompey are still struggling, and had David Connolly to thank for assisting Jed Wallace's early opening and helping them to a valuable point.
Alan Judge scored a late consolation goal for Notts County as they suffered a 2-1 defeat to Brentford, leaving them eight points adrift of the playoffs.
Roy O'Donovan's 85th minute goal sealed a 1-0 victory for Northampton Town over Torquay United, which keeps them in the automatic promotion places with six league games remaining.
At the other end of the table, York City played out a tight scoreless draw with Bristol Rovers to keep them just three points from safety. Ireland under-21 defender Lanre Oyebanjo did well for the visitors, helping them keep a clean sheet.
Celtic can lift the Scottish Premier League title with a win in their next game after being held to a 1-1 draw with St Mirren. Anthony Stokes came on for the Hoops at half-time, but did not really test goalkeeper Craig Samson, while defender David Van Zanten went close at the other end for the hosts.
Pat Fenlon's hopes of a top six finish were halted with a 2-1 home loss to Inverness Caledonian Thistle. Hibernian will need to beat Celtic next week to stand any chance of getting into the top half before the league splits after 33 games.
Republic of Ireland winger Aiden McGeady made his first appearance in four months, coming off the bench in Spartak Moscow's 2-2 draw with Kuban Krasnodar. Spartak sit fifth in the Russian Premier League table, and travel to Rostov next weekend.
Perth Glory drew 1-1 with Adelaide United on the last day of the regular season in the A-League to edge out Sydney FC and qualify for the Elimination Playoff. Liam Miller was suspended for the side's last league game, but should return to face Melbourne Victory on Friday.
|IRISH XI OF THE WEEKEND
Goalkeeper: David Forde (Millwall)
Defenders: Keith Keane (Preston), Niall Canavan (Scunthorpe), Lanre Oyebanjo (York), Alan Dunne (Millwall)
Midfielders: Jeff Hendrick (Derby), Alan Judge (Notts County), Darron Gibson (Everton)
Forwards: Kevin Doyle (Wolves), Roy O'Donovan (Northampton), Adam Rooney (Swindon)