December 9th

Europa League

Liam Scales followed up his debut goal with a first start in Celtic’s final Europa League game of the campaign and the full-back put in an impressive shift against Real Betis. James McCarthy also started in midfield as Celtic won 3-2 but unfortunately the win was too little too late as they finished third and subsequently drop down in to the Europa Conference League.

December 11th

English Premier League

Norwich City centre-half Andrew Omobamidele missed out on their defeat to Manchester United with a back injury and is set to be sidelined for the next couple of weeks according to manager Dean Smith.

English Championship

Ireland U-21 international Mark McGuinness scored his second goal in as many games but this time it meant so much more for Cardiff City as his 91st minute header earned his side a late point in their away trip to Birmingham City. The 20-year-old has now scored three goals this season with all of them coming from headers. The next Shane Duffy?

Callum Robinson’s first goal since his finish against Luxembourg was all that West Brom needed as they saw off Reading. Robinson’s dinked finish at the front post fooled everyone, including Reading keeper Luke Southwood who was left rooted to the spot. Jayson Molumby returned to the starting eleven while Taylor Gardner-Hickman was shifted out to left wing-back but still managed to leave his stamp on the game and earned a place in the Championship ‘Team of the Week’.

Next to Robinson’s old club Preston where Alan Browne opened the scoring in a 2-1 win against Barnsley. Browne has had to wait a while for his first goal of the season and buried his opportunity when he was played in by Daniel Johnson in 57th minute.

Peterborough United ended a seven game winless streak on Saturday, beating Millwall by a goal to nil with two Irish representatives involved in the action. Posh midfielder Jack Taylor lobbed the ball through to forward Jonson Clarke-Harris who took it down before Millwall full-back Danny McNamara’s attempted interception resulted in an own-goal. Delight for Taylor and despair for McNamara.

Finally in the Championship, there was a first-team debut for Irish youngster Eiran Cashin at Derby County. The centre-back’s name is now added to a growing list of recent Irish debutants at Pride Park.

English League One

Portsmouth are now up to eight games without defeat after they beat Morecambe 2-0 at home. Marcus Harness scored the first goal of the game (his fourth goal in seven games). The winger waited patiently as his teammates fluffed several chance before he pounced to make it 1-0. Meanwhile at the other end, Gavin Bazunu pulled off a spectacular save to ensure his team kept their 13th clean sheet of the season.

Mark Sykes is another man in form. The Oxford United midfielder scored in his second successive game, netting the winning goal in a 2-1 victory away to MK Dons. Troy Parrott assisted MK Don’s only goal, bringing his tally up to four for the season.

English League Two

In the English fourth tier, Stephen McLaughlin scored his second goal of the week. The Mansfield Town full-back’s free-kick crept in at the front post with everyone in the box, including the Salford City keeper, expecting an inswinging cross. The goal and win warranted a place in the EFL ‘Team of the Week’ for McLaughlin.

An astonishing TEN goals were scored at Oldham as the home side played out a 5-5 draw with Forest Green Rovers. Irish midfielder and Spurs loanee Jamie Bowden assisted two of Oldham’s goals in the draw.

There were (only) six goals scored in the game between Bristol Rovers and Rochdale in another exciting League Two clash. Both Trevor Clarke (Bristol Rovers) and Corey O’Keeffe (Rochdale) were providers in the game which finished 4-2 to Bristol Rovers.

Former Ireland international Stephen Ward also got in on the action in Walsall’s 3-0 victory at home to Colchester United. Ward set up Otis Khan for his second of the game.

Lastly, there was red card for Bradford City defender Niall Canavan just after the half hour mark. Their tie with Sutton United finished 2-2.

Scottish Premiership

St Mirren’s last league win dates back to October 16th and the search for that elusive victory continues after they drew with Hibs on Saturday. If it wasn’t for Irish defender Joe Shaughnessy then Mirren would’ve been coming away with zero points after the captain stabbed in an 87th minute equalizer to make it one apiece. St Mirren currently reside in ninth place in the league.

Scottish Championship

Former Bolton Wanderers man Mark Connolly headed in Dunfermline’s second goal of the game in a 3-3 draw with Queen of the South.

December 12th

English Premier League

After a win against Arsenal, Everton returned to their old ways on Sunday. The Toffees suffered a 3-1 defeat at the hands of Crystal Palace. Seamus Coleman’s attempted quick free-kick in stoppage time backfired as it eventually landed at Conor Gallagher’s feet and from there into the top corner… which ultimately was nail in Everton’s coffin. Rafa Benitez’s men have won just one of their last ten games in the Premier League.

Nathan Collins again dropped out of the Burnley starting eleven to make room for the returning Ben Mee.

December 14th

English Premier League

Adam Idah played 30 minutes in Norwich City’s 2-0 home defeat to Aston Villa.

Scottish Premiership

Dundee defender Ryan Sweeney was sent-off in stoppage time of a 1-0 defeat against Hibs on Tuesday night.

German Bundesliga

The Irish in Europe contingent has expanded to Germany (potentially). FS Mainz 05 winger Paul Nebel declared his Irish roots in a recent interview with his club and revealed his intentions to apply for an Irish passport. He has played for several of Germany’s international underage groups up until this point.

“My Grandmother is Irish, my Mother is half-Irish and the country is like a second home to me. I don’t have an Irish passport yet but I’m thinking about applying for it because I have roots there and I’m proud of them.”

Mainz winger Paul Nebel on Irish background

Hence our interest in the Bundesliga and his performances in the top tier of German football. The 19-year-old was a second-half substitute on Saturday as Mainz fell to 2-1 defeat to league leaders Bayern Munich. Then onto Tuesday night’s 4-0 win over Hertha Berlin where Nebel made his fifth appearance of the season and set up the final goal of the game less than five minutes after coming on from the bench. He has also scored twice from eight games for FS Mainz 05 II this season.

A long way off switching his allegiance and possibly donning a green jersey, but Nebel and his international future is definitely one to keep an eye on.

December 15th

English Premier League

With Burnley vs Watford called off due to an COVID-19 outbreak in the Watford camp, there was only three Premier League games to review on Wednesday evening. There was still plenty of talking points from an Irish point of view however.

Firstly to Crystal Palace where there was a first Southampton start for Will Smallbone since he tore his ACL back in January 16th against Leicester City, 334 days ago. Commendable from the Ireland U-21 midfielder who put in a 70 minute shift on his return as the Saints came away from Selhurst Park with a point. Shane Long also featured in the 2-2 draw.

There was also a rare start for Aaron Connolly at Brighton with several players missing with COVID-19. The striker was unlucky not to be awarded a penalty but apart from that he failed to grasp his chance in the starting eleven and was substituted on the hour mark. There was also a first appearance in a Premier League squad for former Bohs striker Evan Ferguson. A special night for the 17-year-old whose performances in the Premier League 2 this season obviously haven’t gone unnoticed.

Another Irish youngster who is impressing in the Premier League 2 is West Ham’s Armstrong Okoflex. Both strikers have 19 goals between them already this season. The former Celtic forward also made the bench for the Hammers for the first time since his move in the summer. West Ham fell to a 2-0 defeat to Arsenal. Meanwhile both Okoflex and Ferguson will have to wait a little longer to make their Premier League debuts.

Scottish Premiership

One man who is thriving up north at Celtic Park is Liam Scales. A debut goal in his first Scottish Premiership appearance last week, and now a first league start and an assist for the left-back. Not a bad start to life in Scotland for Scales. His low cross was met first time by Liel Abada to give Celtic the lead in the first-half. The Bhoys went on to beat St Johnstone with a winner in the 97th minute which means the gap between them and Rangers at the top remains at four points.