Three Irish stories to look out for this weekend

by Neil Sherwin

1.  Hull invasion

With Stephen Quinn a regular at the KC stadium and Paul McShane finally putting together a string of first team starts for Hull City, Steve Bruce’s Irish double act this week became a quartet.  Loan deals for Sunderland’s David Meyler and Manchester United’s Robbie Brady should further bolster Hull’s push for promotion.

Hull lie fourth in a congested Championship summit and this weekend they travel to Cardiff who sit a place ahead of the Yorkshire side.  They will be hoping that Meyler will add further bite and industry to the midfield, complimented by the guile of Brady and the accuracy of passing and balls into the danger area he brings.

While McShane is a well-known fringe player in the Irish national team set up, less is known about Clondalkin man Quinn.  The 26 year old was a youth player with St. Patrick’s Athletic and wasn’t long in the senior set up at Richmond Park before he was picked up by Sheffield United.

Quinn made over 200 appearances for Sheffield between 2005 and 2012, which included several appearances in the premiership.  But The Blades slide to League One meant that a move was ultimately inevitable and Steve Bruce signed him on transfer deadline day.

Quinn’s eye for goal and ability to assist have continued under Bruce.  With Brady now chipping in from the opposing wing and Meyler aiding to tighten things in midfield, this could be a successful period together for all four players.

2.  The Irish angle at Dundee United

They may lay eight in the Scottish Premier division but Dundee United are not, it seems, settling for mid table and its adjoining mediocrity.  The Tannadice Park club are only five points adrift of Celtic and Hibernian in a tight and competitive league.  And at the centre of it all are five Irish men.

United’s comeback at home to Celtic last weekend, with two very late goals to secure a draw, was as well deserved as it was dramatic.  Perhaps equally as impressive was their midweek performance.  While all eyes where on an historical night in Celtic Park, Dundee United’s sideshow match with Motherwell was important in its own right and impressively Peter Houston’s side came away with a victory after a late headed effort from Johnny Russell.

At this side’s core are four Dubliners and a midfielder from Tipperary.  All five are regular starters.

Twenty-nine year old striker and club captain Jonathan Daly has been at the club since 2007.  The ex-Cherry Orchard player had spells at Hartlepool United and Stockport County amongst other before signing for ex-Scotland manager Craig Levein who managed the club at the time.

Richie Ryan, the only non-Dubliner in the group, hails from Clonmel and has had a varied career that has seen him at Sunderland where his starts were limited, to Royal Antwerp in Belgium and then a sustained spell with Sligo Rovers.  He left Sligo for United at the end of the Irish league season in November 2011 and has gradually made his way into the first team.

Sean Dillon joined Aston Villa as a teenager but played the first half of his senior career in the league of Ireland; firstly with Longford Town before a move to Shelbourne in 2006.  The former under-21 international was also a signing of Levein’s, in January 2007, and has gone on to become a consistent performer in defence.  The Twenty-Nine year old hopes to reach 200 club appearances this season.

Fellow defender Gavin Gunning is also a regular since joining from Blackburn Rovers in August 2011.  His performances on loan at Motherwell earlier that year were enough for the Dundee side to sign up the former Crumlin United player.

Probably the most high profile of the Irish quintet is former Manchester City and Middlesbrough midfielder Willo Flood.  The diminutive and dexterous former Cherry Orchard player was not a stranger to Tannadice Park before his 2011 permanent switch.  His time at Cardiff City was interspersed with two trips to Northeast Scotland, gaining 56 appearances along the way.

Wednesday nights defeat of the power of Barcelona might have delighted many of Celtics Irish fans but Dundee United should at least be kept an eye on.  Their current form dictates a possible strong season in the offing.

3.  Stacks of experience

Edgar Davids’ Barnet’s victory over Torquay on Tuesday night saw the Greater London side move off the foot of League Two.  The ex-Dutch international played the full game but he is not the only experienced player he and Mark Robson are relying on.

One time Arsenal reserve and ex Irish Under-21 International Graham Stack is the sides number one goalkeeper after a surprise move after his contract with Hibernian ended at the end of the 2011/12 season.

Stack was a regular for Hibernian until a thigh injury ended his season with a handful of games to go.  The Hampstead born keeper might have hoped for loftier clubs to sign him up as a free agent, but he took up the offer to sign for The Bees in late August as the transfer deadline loomed.

Barnet’s early season form saw them slump to the bottom of the old third division {or the old fourth division depending on how far back your memory stretches} in dramatic fashion.  While their issues in attack are slowly coming together, it is in defence that Stack and his back four are making dramatic improvements.

Stack has not conceded a league goal in six hours of football.  You would need to look back nearly a month, to October 13th, for the last time he has been beaten.  This has contributed hugely to ten points from twelve and finally the relief of leaving the table’s base.

Stack’s form has been impressive during this run and he hopes to contribute to the club ascending the table with haste.

Stack remarked this week, “I am really enjoying myself at the moment.  The fact that we are winning and keeping clean sheets is all I can ask for.  I don’t know if I’ve ever kept four clean sheets in a row in competitive league games.”

With a solid foundation like this, Stack and his Barnet teammates ascendancy might be carried out with more haste then they could have hoped for only a few weeks ago.

1 Response

  1. chelsea needs an experienced coach who can modify the upfront to maintain a competitive standard of 2010-2011 season not signing in & out of coaches as this takes them back to the starting piont of competition preparation.

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