The Premier League has finally returned and with it, many Irish internationals have returned to action over the last weekend. Here are 5 Irishmen who had standout performances for good or bad reasons in the first game week back.
Michael Obafemi (Norwich vs Southampton) – 6/10
The young Irishman featured in the first game of the Match weekend putting in an impressive performance as his Southampton team romped to a 3-0 victory at Carrow Road. It took Obafemi a while to get going with a few misplaced passes and turnovers early on but when the second half rolled around him, and Southampton started to get a real foothold in the game. He impressed fans with his impressive hold-up play throughout but his decision making and overall match sharpness were clearly still lacking. After failing to find the right pass on more than one occasion Obafemi did set up Nathan Redmond with a short ball to feet as the Saints regular slotted home with a great finish. Obafemi’s work rate and pressing were also noted as he forced Tim Krul into various awkward situations forcing him to kick long and making him uncomfortable throughout. It was certainly a promising performance for the young Irish international who will be looking to find a way into Stephen Kenny’s playoff squad having largely been on the fringes under McCarthy.
Seamus Coleman (Everton vs Liverpool) – 9/10
Seamus Coleman is certainly no stranger to the Merseyside derby and put in a Man of the Match display on Sunday evening in front of record tv audience for a Premier League game. Everton haven’t had the rub of the green against there neighbors in recent years, but Coleman and his teammates put in a good defensive display and probably should’ve snatched a winner through Tom Davies late on. Marking Sadio Mane the Donegal native had few problems and faired well against one of the most dangerous attackers in world football. The Irish captain again proved crucial for the Toffees and Ireland fans will be hoping that he can carry on and put together a good run in the final few weeks something he hasn’t really managed at club level since that awful leg break against Wales. He made the most tackles and won possession the most times of anyone in the derby and earned plaudits from pundits for his display.
John Egan (Newcastle vs Sheffield United) – 3/10
There is no doubt that John Egan has been rock solid at the back for Sheffield United this season even being tipped by many as a potential team of the season contender as he and the club dream of European football next season however he had an absolute shocker on his 2nd post Lockdown appearance. He received an early bath after getting into a one on one tussle with Joelinton in which he dragged the Newcastle man back pulling his shoulder and his shirt and denying a clear goal-scoring opportunity. There can be few arguments over the red card received by the former Sunderland man, but Irish fans will be hoping that he can bounce back following his suspension and help United and there various Irish internationals to a potential European berth.
Aaron Connolly (Brighton vs Arsenal) – 7/10
When Aaron Connolly burst onto the scene against Spurs the hopes of many were pinned on the young Brighton man to be Ireland’s next striking prospect. While he has not quite lived up to that performance since he has featured regularly for Brighton having mainly inconsistent form but remaining a promising player and having some further standout performances. He came on in the 68th minute with Brighton trailing and Connolly added some attacking prowess that had been lacking in a poor second half. Lewis Dunk equalized with 15 minutes to go and then in the dying moments, Connolly played a delightful chip through ball for the pantomime villain of the game Neal Maupay to slot home a winner with one of the last kicks of the game. Connolly was largely uninvolved in the chaos that ensued at full time but is sure to have been pleased to make an impact from the bench and will hope to start regularly for Brighton from now until the end of the season.
Matt Doherty (West Ham vs Wolves) – 7/10
Matt Doherty has been a consistent performer for Wolves throughout their stint in the Premier League and this did not falter in his first post lockdown appearance. Doherty defended well and had a nice link-up with super-sub Adama Traore down the right-hand side of the attack with the pacey Spaniard feeding Doherty late on in the game with the Irishman going on to play a perfect cross into Pedro Neto who volleyed home Wolves 2nd goal of the game to seal the win. Doherty’s performances at international level have certainly improved in his last few appearances even netting a goal last time out against Denmark. Ireland fans will hope this only keeps improving under Stephen Kenny and that he can further replicate his club form in a green shirt.
Irish internationals may have had mixed performances over the first game week return of the premier league but it has certainly given fans hope of a bright playoff squad on the horizon.