Between non-selections and injury lay-offs, this weekend threatened to be a bit of a non-event for the Irish plying their trades beyond the comforts of Ireland and the United Kingdom. On weekends like this, I’m often left pinning my hopes on Robbie Keane to find the net for LA Galaxy, thus providing a reasonably noteworthy line.
On Sunday night, the Republic of Ireland captain obliged, with a brace in LA Galaxy’s 5-0 demolition of Chivas USA, his 14 and 15th goals of the MLS campaign. As fine a preparation for the international break as Noel King could have hoped for from Keane. Remember, Keane went into September’s double header in a rich vein of goalscoring form and was sharp in scored, if ultimately in vain, against Sweden.
Also in the MLS this weekend, Cork born United States Under 20 international Shane O’Neill was in action as Colorado Rapids trounced a Clint Dempsey-less Seattle Sounders side 5-1. Larne’s Jonny Steele also featured for New York Red Bulls as they needed a 97th minute equaliser against New England Revolution in the Eastern Conference.
Kevin Walker may be a name some of you have become familiar of late. He’s the Swedish-Irish midfielder who’s created a stir in his native country and here in Ireland after taking the latest series of talent show Swedish Idol by storm. A nomadic central midfielder by day (by the age of 23, he’d played for five different clubs, and three more youth sides in Sweden), by night he has been moonlighting as Sweden’s new pop heartthrob.
In between appearing on the talent show, Walker has been a mainstay in a GIF Sundsvall side fighting for promotion to Sweden’s top tier. On Monday night, he scored a 30 yard thunderbolt as third placed GIF defeated league leaders Falkenbergs 1-0 to move within two point of the Superettan summit with just three games remaining.
In what was undoubtedly a good weekend for the Walker family, Kevin’s older brother Robert who now plays for third division team BK Forward, also scored, bagging the opener in his side’s 2-0 over AFC United. Kevin and Robert are sons of the former Bohs, Gillingham and Republic of Ireland Under 21 defender Pat Walker, who finished playing in Sweden before carving out a successful management career there.
Finally among the Irish scorers this weekend, Billy Mehmet, once an SPL mainstay and a former Irish Under 21 cap, scored his first goal for new club Dempo SC in their 2-2 draw with Rangdajied United in India’s I-League. Mehmet is well travelled since leaving Scotland for pastures new, playing in Turkey, Australia and Thailand before signing for Dempo in the summer.
In Norway, Irish Under 21 stopper Sean McDermott returned to the Sandnes Ulf team as they played out a 1-1 draw with local rivals Viking Stavanger in Norway’s Tippeligaen. The former Arsenal goalkeeper had missed Ulf’s last game after receiving a red card against Molde and returned on Saturday afternoon.
McDermott had little to do throughout however and was only beaten by a late penalty. He now links-up with Harry McCue’s Under 21 squad where will be act as understudy to Wolves’ Aaron McCarey.
Another player getting in some game time before a return to international duty was Aiden McGeady, who completed his first 90 minutes since his return from injury in Spartak Moscow’s 0-0 draw with Terek Grozny on Sunday morning. Prior to this weekend, McGeady had made four goals in two games since his comeback, notably three in Spartak’s 3-2 win over Kuban Krosnodar two weeks ago.
In the Ukraine, Darren O’Dea will thank his lucky starts he wasn’t involved for Metalurh Donetsk over the weekend. The defender missed out after picking up back and thigh strains in their 2-2 derby draw with Shakhtar the previous weekend. Without him, Metalurh suffered the ignominy of a 1-9 defeat to Dynamo Kiev.
Exiles in Brief
Patrick O’Shaughnessy played 90 minutes but couldn’t prevent MyPa continuing their slide down the Finnish Veikkausliiga, losing 0-2 to TPS.
Cillian Sheridan returned to the APOEL Nicosia starting line-up following the departure of boss Paulo Sergio and helped his side to a 1-0 win over Aris Limassol. The Cavan striker is still searching for his first goal for the Cypriot side however.
After winning two games on the bounce following Barry Maguire’s return to the club, Den Bosch suffered their consecutive Jupiler League defeat on Friday night, going down 2-3 to FC Eindhoven.
Former Republic of Ireland Under 21 cap Patrick Kohlmann was again involved as Union Berlin went level on points at the top of the Bundesliga 2 with a 3-0 victory over Sandhausen. Kohlmann, who won five caps for Don Given’s Under 21’s between 2003 and 2004, has been a virtual ever present at left back this season.
Ireland youth international call-ups South China’s Sean Tse and Hansa Rostock II’s Selcuk Tidim also started for their respective sides over the weekend.
Liam Lawrence (PAOK Salonika), Andy O’Brien (Vancouver Whitecaps), Jason Gavin (Stirling Lions) and Kyle Lafferty (Palermo) were not involved.
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Featured image credit: David Maher / SPORTSFILE