FA Cup Quarter-Finals…28/06/2020

Norwich City provided a very valiant display in this afternoon’s FA Cup quarter-final, but exit the competition following their two one extra-time defeat by Manchester United at Carrow Road. The ‘Canaries’ were reduced to ten men following the dismissal of Klose in the closing stages of normal time but fought valiantly until conceding with just two minutes of extra-time remaining. Adam Idah was introduced from the substitute bench for the final few minutes of the contest but had no time to make an impact.  

John Egan, Enda Stevens and David McGoldrick all started and completed the full 90 minutes for Sheffield United who exited the FA Cup following a two one defeat by visitors Arsenal at Bramall Lane on Sunday afternoon. The visitors led through an early penalty until three minutes from the end of normal tome when McGoldrick scored the equaliser for the hosts. Their joy was short lived however as the visitors responded with the winning goal in stoppage time. 

Championship action this weekend…28/06/2020

Callum O’Dowda
and his Bristol City colleagues went down to a two one Championship defeat at noon on Sunday when visitors Sheffield Wednesday collected all three points at Ashton Gate.

Three Championship contests kicked-off at 12.30pm this Saturday afternoon. Alan Browne started for Preston North End with Sean Maguire a 71st minute substitute as they suffered a three one defeat by  visitors Cardiff City at Deepdale. Swansea City suffered a shock one nil home defeat by struggling Luton Town for whom James Collins scored the winning goal. Charlton Athletic included West Ham United loanee Josh Cullen and the veteran Aiden McGeady in their starting eleven for their one nil victory over visitors QPR who included Conor Masterson and Ryan Manning in their starting eleven with Olamide Shodipo a 60th minute substitute. Half an hour later, Brighton & Hove Albion loanee Jayson Molumby and his Millwall colleague Shaun Williams played out a scoreless draw with Barnsley at Oakwell while Jason Knight was a 79th minute substitute for Derby County who defeated visitors Reading by two goals to one at Pride Park. The regular kick-off time of 3pm featured Harry Arter in action for Fulham for 63 minutes with Cyrus Christie unused on the substitute bench in their three nil defeat at Leeds United. James McClean started for Stoke City with Nathan Collins and Stephen Ward unused on the substitute bench for their two nil defeat by visitors Middlesbrough. Daragh Lenihan was in the Blackburn Rovers starting eleven as they down to a two nil defeat at Wigan Athletic. Loanee Scott Hogan was in the Birmingham City side which twice came from behind to secure a three all draw with visitors Hull City.  

Current Championship leaders West Bromwich Albion went down to a one nil defeat by Brentford in Griffin Park this Friday evening. The ‘Bees’ now move into third place, five points off the leaders. Ireland U21 defender
Dara O’Shea was an unused substitute for the ‘Baggies’ while Sheffield United loanee Callum Robinson was introduced from the substitute bench on 79 minutes.

Premier League continues…25/06/2020

There was further Premier League activity on Thursday evening with Burnley defeating visitors Watford with the only goal at Turf Moor. Central defenders Jimmy Dunne and Kevin Long were unused substitutes on the ‘Clarets’ bench.

There was disappointment for Southampton who suffered a two nil defeat at home to Arsenal. Michael Obafemi started up front for the ‘Saints’ but was quite ineffectual and was replaced at half-time by the fit again Shane Long who was much more involved in a distinctly improved second half performance but one that failed to produce any dividend. Teenage midfielder Will Smallbone was an unused substitute for the ‘Saints’. 

The Premier League continued this Wednesday evening with a depleted Sheffield United suffering another three nil reversal against Manchester United at Old Trafford. Enda Stevens was again disappointing while David McGoldrick completed 64 minutes but was unable to make any real impact. John Egan missed out through suspension following his dismissal last Sunday.

Conor Hourihane was introduced from the Aston Villa substitute bench on 70 minutes as his side secured a point with a late equaliser at Newcastle United for whom Ciaran Clark has not yet returned to full fitness.

Seamus Coleman captained Everton to a one nil victory over Norwich city at Crrow road where Adam Idah was an 80th minute substitute for the ‘Canaries’.

Matt Doherty was again in action for Wolverhampton wanderers who secured a one nil home victory over AFC Bournemouth.

James McCarthy completed the full match for Crystal Palace who went down to a comprehensive four nil defeat by champions elect Liverpool at Anfield.

Brighton & Hove Albion journied to third place Leicester City and played out a scoreless draw in the Premier League this Tuesday evening. Aaron Connolly started up front for the ‘Seagulls’ and his excellent run earned an early penalty kick but it was not converted by his strike partner. Connolly was a constant thorn in the defenders sides until his exhaustive withdrawal on 82 minutes. Shane Duffy was introduced to the action on 24 minutes and, save for one poor and silly challenge, played a significant part in a resilient defence.

In this evening’s other Premier League contest, Tottenham Hotspur defeated visitors West Ham United, for whom Darren Randolph was an unused substitute, by two goals to nil.

Burnley made the short journey to face Manchester City at the Etihad Stadium in the Premier League this Monday evening and suffered another crushing five nil defeat, their third in succession against City. There appears to be some disquiet within the ‘Clarets’ management structure with Team Manager Sean Dyche admitting concerns about the failure to extend the contracts of several senior players, including Jeff Hendrick, which is expected to see them exit the club on the 30th June. None of the impacted players was included in tonight’s matchday squad while Robbie Brady was also a notable absentee. Central defenders Kevin Long and Jimmy Dunne were both unused on the substitute bench.  

Sheffield United suffered a crushing three nil Premier League defeat at Newcastle United this Sunday afternoon with Irish duo John Egan and Enda Stevens the centre of attention for the wrong reasons. Egan was dismissed for a second bookable offence five minutes into the second half and just a few minutes later a horrendous error by Stevens led to the opening goal for the hosts. David McGoldrick picked up an injury in the opening fixture last Wednesday and was not available today.

Conor Hourihane started for Aston Villa who went down to a two onw defeat by Chelsea at Villa Park later this afternoon. The Cork man made little impact and was withdrawn on 70 minutes.

Goodison Park hosted the ‘Derby Meeting’ of Everton and champions elect Liverpool at the very unusual time of 7pm on Sunday evening. The match finished scoreless with the best chances falling to the hosts in the closing stages. Captain Seamus Coleman was excellent and deservedly earned the ‘man of the match’ award.

Aaron Connolly was a 71st minute substitute for Brighton & Hove Albion and provided the final pass which led to a two one Premier League victory for the ‘Seagulls’ over visitors Arsenal. Shane Duffy was an unused substitute on Saturday afternoon.

Darren Randolph was on the West Ham United substitute bench for the London Stadium visit of Wolverhampton Wanderers and Matt Doherty at 5.30pm where the visitors secured a two nil victory with Doherty providing the final pass for the second goal.

In the late kick-off, James McCarthy was a 65th minute substitute for Crystal Palace who defeated hosts AFC Bournemouth by two goals to nil at the Vitality stadium.

The Premier League continued on Friday evening with Norwich City going down to an emphatic three nil defeat by visitors Southampton at Carrow Road. Michael Obafemi started for the visiting ‘Saints’ in place of the injured Shane Long and was replaced on 82 minutes by midfielder Will Smallbone while teenage striker Adam Idah was introduced from the ‘Canaries’ substitute bench on 80 minutes.

Championship resumption…20/06/2020

The Championship resumed on Saturday afternoon with London rivals Fulham and Brentford facing each other at 12.30pm in Craven Cottage where the visiting ‘Bees’ were two nil victors. The hosts introduced Harry Arter, recently mentioned in positive terms by Ireland manager Stephen Kenny, from the substitute bench on 80 minutes but Cyrus Christie remained unused. A short while later at 1pm, Millwall went down to a three two defeat by visitors Derby County at the New Den. The ‘Lions’ included Brighton & Hove Albion loanee Jayson Molumby in their starting eleven with Shaun Williams an 86th minute substitute while young Jason Knight was a 62nd minute substitute for  the visiting ‘Rams’. Daragh Lenihan was in the Blackburn Rovers side for their three one victory over visitors Bristol City for whom Callum O’Dowda completed the full match at Ewood Park. West Ham United loanee Josh Cullen was in the Charlton Athletic side which scored the only goal for victory at Hull City. James Collins started for Luton Town who played out a one all draw with Kenilworth Road visitors Preston North End for whom Alan Browne and Sean Maguire both started. Ryan Manning and Conor Masterson started and Olamide Shodipo was a half-time substitute for QPR who lost to the only for Barnsley at Loftus Road.  Nathan Collins started and James McClean was a half-time substitute for Stoke City who drew one each with hosts Reading. Loanee Callum Robinson started while Dara O’Shea was an unused substitute for promotion chasing West Bromwich Albion who were held to a scoreless draw by visitors Birmingham City who included loanee Scott Hogan in their starting eleven.

UEFA confirm EURO 2020 play-off dates…17/06/2020

UEFA  today confirmed that the EURO 2020 play-off semi-final against Slovakia will take place on Thursday the 8th October with the play-off final scheduled for Thursday the 12th November 2020.

UEFA further confirmed that the opening League B Group 4 Nations League fixture in Bulgaria, Stephen Kenny’s first in command, will take place on Thursday the 3rd September with Finland set to visit the Aviva Stadium three days later on Sunday the 6th September 2020.

The dates for the four remaining Nations League fixtures, scheduled for October and November, will be finalised in due course.

It has also been confirmed that the first qualifying rounds of both the 2021 Champions and Europa Leagues will be played on a one leg basis. Our qualifiers, Champions League (18/19 August)- Dundalk, Europa League (27 August) – Bohemian, Derry City and Shamrock Rovers await the draws which are expected to take place next month.

Premier League Resumes…17/06/2020

Following a 100 day interruption triggered by the coronavirus outbreak, the Premier League resumed on Wednesday evening with Aston Villa playing host to Sheffield United at a spectator less Villa Park.

The contest ended scoreless but was engulfed in controversy as the technology system linked to the referees watch failed to register a legitimate goal scored by the visiting ‘Blades’.

Conor Hourihane was in action for the hosts and his general passing, coupled with his deadball delivery, was in fine working order and is likely to appeal to new Ireland manager Stephen Kenny.

The visitors included John Egan and Enda Stevens in their starting eleven with David McGoldrick a 69th minute substitute. While there were no major problems attributable to the trio, none of them was as prominent as they had been prior to the coronavirus shutdown.

Coronavirus brings sport to a standstill…13/03/2020

The escalating outbreak of Coronavirus has brought an abrupt stop to the great majority of sporting events. All codes of Irish domestic football were officially postponed yesterday, Thursday, while the British mainland has followed suit today. While resumption dates of two to three weeks have been designated, given the ever expanding scale of the outbreak it does seem incongruous that those dates will become effective.