By Ronan Murphy
The Premier League took a weekend off due to FA Cup football, but there was plenty of Irish in action in the last 16 as well as throughout the lower leagues.
Potential call-ups Wes Hoolahan and Anthony Pilkington were in action for the hosts, with regular Ireland centre-back Sean St Ledger keeping his place in the Leicester starting 11.
St Ledger got the visitors off to the perfect start with a fifth-minute headed goal but 20 minutes later Norwich were back in it.
Wes Hoolahan stepped up to take a spot kick, and although it was saved by Kasper Schmeichel, it spun out to the midfielder who blasted it in.
Leicester went on to win 2-1 thanks to a wonderful finish from David Nugent.
Stand-in Birmingham City goalkeeper Colin Doyle was named man of the match thanks to a string of stunning saves to force a replay against Chelsea, while Keith Fahey held his own in the Blues midfield.
Stephen Carr went off injured and Adam Rooney had little opportunity up front.
Saturday evening saw Sunderland record the result of the day to prolong Arsenal's misery. John O'Shea and James McClean featured prominently for the hosts as they won 2-0.
On Sunday, Jon Walters struck from the spot to knock Crawley Town out of the cup, despite the minnows having more possession and more shots than Stoke.
Rene Gilmartin made his debut for the League Two side between the posts, while Stoke’s Rory Delap was harshly sent off for a tackle on David Hunt.
Despite conceding two goals, defender Darren O’Dea was one of Leeds United’s best players as they defeated Doncaster 3-2.
Recalled Ireland midfielder Paul Green had a disappointing outing at St Mary’s, where Derby slumped to a 4-0 defeat against Southampton.
Reading climbed up to third in the table on Friday night with a 1-0 win over Burnley, with Noel Hunt once again causing problems for the opposition goalkeeper.
Keith Treacy failed a late fitness test for the visitors and missed out.
Stephen Gleeson was on the scoresheet as MK Dons demolished Oldham 5-0. The two-time Ireland international midfielder grabbed the fifth after controlling the ball well in the box.
Preston striker Graham Cummins scored his first goal for the club since joining from Cork City, heading home Nicky Evans’ cross just before half-time. However, Ched Evans scored each side of the interval to give Sheffield United the three points.
A 90th minute goal from Martin Rowlands was not enough to save Colchester against Yeovil, with a 3-2 win moving the hosts five points clear of relegation.
Rowlands’ late consolation goal was a stunning free kick after Kieran Agard received his marching orders.
Irish under 21 striker James Collins got himself on the scoresheet once again, grabbing a 74th minute winner against Barnet. The 2-1 win moves Shrewsbury to within two points of the top spot.
Anthony Stokes opened the floodgates as Pat Fenlon’s Hibernian lost 5-0 at home to Celtic.
Stokes headed home after just a quarter of an hour, moving the Bhoys 17 points ahead of rivals Rangers.
However, the result sees Hibs’ goal difference move to -26, just four goals ahead of Dunfermline in a very tight relegation battle.
Kilmarnock’s Paul Heffernan was unlucky not to score against Rangers, while Sean Dillon and Gavin Gunning were solid in defence once again as Dundee United held St. Mirren to a scoreless draw.
|IRISH XI OF THE WEEKEND
Defenders: John O’Shea (Sunderland), Darren O’Dea (Leeds), Sean St Ledger (Leicester), Sean Dillon (Dundee Utd)
Midfielders: Wes Hoolahan (Norwich), Stephen Gleeson (MK Dons), Michael Doyle (Sheff Utd), James McClean (Sunderland)
Forwards: James Collins (Shrewsbury), Graham Cummins (Preston)