Despite the best efforts of messrs Keane, McGeady and O’Dea, there were no Irish goalscorers among the Exiles in action over the weekend. However, in a largely positive few days for the Irish abroad results wise, those three Irish internationals were key for their respective sides in some key clashes on the continent and beyond.
Just 32 hours after completing 90 minutes and scoring a penalty for the Republic of Ireland against Kazahkstan, Robbie Keane made a surprise if very welcome cameo from the bench as LA Galaxy saw off Montreal Impact 1-0 in the MLS on Wednesday night (3.30am Irish time).
The Republic of Ireland captain was involved in the goalmouth melee that led to Kofi Opare’s winning goal and could have scored himself late on, seeing his chipped effort come back off the crossbar.
Keane, who walked out with his son Robert Jr, then returned to the starting line up on Sunday evening, captaining Galaxy to a scoreless draw with San Jose Earthquakes. Despite his and his side’s failure to score, that point has sealed a fifth consecutive playoff berth for Bruce Arena’s team.
Also in the MLS, former Northern Ireland youth international Jonny Steele played 80 minutes as New York Red Bulls defeated Houston Dymano 3-0 to stay top of the Eastern Conference.
Andy O’Brien failed to make the Vancouver Whitecaps squad to face Colorado Rapids but Midleton’s Shane O’Neill started at centre back as his Rapids team ran out 3-2 winners.
In the Ukraine, Darren O’Dea was asked to fill in at left back on his return to league duty for Metalurh Donetsk and didn’t disappoint, delivering the cross that was turned in by Junior Moraes for the winner in the 2-1 win over Tavriya.
The Republic of Ireland defender, who was omitted from Noel King’s squad for the recent WCQ double header, missed Donetsk’s last league match, a 9-0 drubbing by Dynamo Kiev. O’Dea had picked up back and thigh injuries the week previously, in Metalurh’s 2-2 derby draw with rivals Shakhtar, a match in which he went off injured when Metalurh were 2-0 up.
O’Dea wasn’t the only senior international with a hand in a key goal for his club side over the weekend. Aiden McGeady got over the disappointment of only making a brief cameo for Ireland in the interntional break by getting 90 minutes under his belt as Spartak Moscow returned to winning ways with a 1-0 win over Anzhi.
Spartak made heavy weather of beleaguered Anzhi, who were the better team for large periods, but when McGeady saw his 27th minute shot parried by the home goalkeeper, Yuro Movsisyan pounced to ensure Spartak left Anzhi with all three points.
McGeady has one goal and seven assists for his club already this season and this win moves them to within five points of leaders Zenit St Petersburg in the Russian Premier League.
Down under, it was a meeting of football minds, of sorts as two former Champions League and international stars clashed in the A League. While Liam Miller would surely concede he’s hardly of the ilk of the legendary Juventus forward Alessandro Del Piero, it was the Irishman who came out on top on Saturday afternoon, Brisbane Roar beating Sydney FC 4-0.
The win continues Roar’s 100% start to the season, with Miller having joined the club in the summer after leaving Perth Glory after two seasons.
Barry Maguire will be a name familiar to some, after coming to Irish attention during FC Utrecht’s Europa League campaign in 2010 and his subsequent flirtations with the Irish national team.
Nowadays, a senior international call up is a world away for the one time youth cap, having returned to his boyhood club Den Bosch in the Netherland’s second tier, the Ereste Divise.
On Friday night, Maguire delivered the late cross for Alexander Mols to complete his hat-trick as Den Bosch defeated Excelsior (David Connolly’s old club) 3-2 at the wonderfully named Brainwash Stadium.
Exiles in Brief
Republic of Ireland Under 21 goalkeeper Sean McDermott was between the sticks as Sandnes Ulf went down 2-4 to Odd BK in Norway’s Tippeligaen.
Kevin Walker captained GIF Sundsvall to a 1-1 draw with Assyriska in Sweden’s Superettan. The draw dents GIF’s hopes of securing an automatic promotion to Sweden’s top flight, with a play-off looming with just three league games remaining.
Sean Tse was a second half substitute as South China beat the wonderfully named (there’s a theme developing here) Happy Valley 4-1 in Hong Kong’s First Division.
In India, former St Mirren striker Billy Mehmet lasted an hour of Dempo SC’s 3-1 win over East Bengal.
Patrick O’Shaughnessy helped MyPa keep a clean sheet in a 1-0 defeat of RoPS in the penultimate round of Veikkausliiga fixtures.
Liam Lawrence and Patrick Kohlmann were unused substitutes for PAOK Salonika and Unin Berlin respectively.
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