I’m absolutely delighted now that we can start reporting on our Irish lads playing in the Uk and further afield again. When we are waiting on something for so long it often feels very anticlimactic but this weekend certainly did not disappoint with an Adam Idah winner at the death, Will Smallbone bringing out his inner Sergio Busquests and much more joy for our Irish lads!
I think it’s only fair that the main topic of discussion is the three ballers at Southampton. Will Smallbone will rightly so take all the headlines with how he controlled the game in number 6 position but Gavin Bazunu and Ryan Manning were both top performers for the saints. Gavin’s distribution and calmness on the ball was top class and is extremely hard to come by, many top keepers don’t possess the qualities that he has at 21. Manning played as a more inverted fullback coming into midfield showing how technically gifted he really is. From an Irish point of view we don’t have another fullback who can play that role of slipping into midfield and help his side dictate play, that could be key in an Irish side that doesn’t have many players who can control a game! Despite both of them impressing it was really Will Smallbone who caught the eye. He was deployed in the number 6 role where he hasn’t played before and took to it like a duck to water, controlling the game from minute one to ninety and also pleasantly surprising me with some key tackles! The big question now is where does Russell Martin see Will playing in the long run? My Irish player of the weekend!
I thought I’d never say this but Adam Idah has now scored in 2 competitive games in a row! He scored against Gibraltar in June and scored the winner against Hull City on Saturday last. I must say I’m delighted to see Adam get on the scoresheet and start the season as he means to go on. Adam wasn’t the only Irishman who got on the scoresheet in the championship as Will Keane showed to all the doubters (there’s a lot of them) that he scores goals no matter where he goes. Keane scored a late equaliser against Bristol City on his debut for Preston. Thankfully we didn’t just have goalscorers in the championship this weekend , Sammie Szdmoics picked up where he left off last season setting up a goal in a 2-1 victory over Jayson Molumby’s West Brom. There’s no sign of Szdomics slowing down from last season and I may be stating the obvious but when is Stephen Kenny going to give the lad a chance? Aidomo Emakhu continued his impressive pre-season form by assisting the winner for Millwall to cause a huge upset away to Middlesborough! The speed and composure he showed in the lead up to the winning goal was extremely impressive by the ex Shamrock Rovers player.
It wasn’t just in the championship where the Irish lads impressed, Alex Murphy played 90 minutes and kept a clean sheet for Newcastle’s first team as he is starting to give Eddie Howe selection problems ahead of the start of the Premier League next weekend. Eddie Howe said on Murphy “Alex did really well today, I think the beauty of his performances in pre-season have been versatility. He has played left-back and centre-half, today right-sided centre-half.” The Galway native is now on course for a Ireland u21 call up in September.
A few other performances that have gone under the radar that have stood out to me,
Corrie Ndaba played 90 minutes, kept a clean sheet and majorly impressed Kilmarnock fans in a 1-0 upset win over Rangers. Ndaba won 7/7 ground duels, made 6 clearances and completed the most dribbles in his SPFL debut! Callum O’Dowda was rock solid and extremely efficient on the ball which led to him playing a huge part in Cardiff City’s opening goal in a 2-2 draw with Leeds at Elland Road. Mark McGuinness also was extremely solid for the bluebirds! Sinclair Armstrong continued to show that he’s the shining light in a terrible QPR side, he came on at half time and showed everybody what he’s about with his workrate and ability with the ball at feet. He is adored by QPR fans and it’s only a matter of time before he’s the first name on the team sheet for the R’s and is scoring goals for fun!
Who stood out to you? Let me know
Conor / @reptracker