Irish players steal the headlines in Scotland after impressive weekend

Irish players steal the headlines in Scotland after impressive weekend

Written by James French

It was a weekend to remember for Liam Scales, Dara Costelloe and Jamie McGrath.

In a busy weekend of football across the water, the SPFL provided much of the excitement.

Celtic snatched a 90+7-minute winner at Motherwell and Aberdeen turned over Rangers 3-1 at Ibrox, leading to the eventual sacking of Michael Beale.

With Stephen Kenny and Ireland U21 manager Jim Crawford set to name their squads this coming Thursday, Irish players had an extra incentive to perform and force their way into plans for the respective upcoming Euros qualifiers.

Here are a few Irish players who may have done so:

01) Liam Scales – Celtic

Arguably the most talked about Irish footballer currently, Liam Scales continued his excellent start to the season with another solid performance at Fir Park on Saturday.

The Wicklow man has found himself starting week-on-week for Celtic since injuries to fellow first team centre-halves Maik Nawrocki and Cameron Carter Vickers.

In a poor performance from his side, Scales stood out once again as a top performer. Aggressive in his tackling and composed in his passing, the 25-year-old must be a shoe in for an inclusion in Kennys squad on Thursday.

02) Dara Costelloe – St Johnstone (on loan from Burnley)

Dara Costelloe has went slightly under the radar over the past year.

Since coming on the scene in his surprise start for Burnley in their opening Championship game last season, the Limerick man was
subsequently sent on loan to League Two side Bradford City in January as he searched for more gametime.

Costelloe featured 11 times for Bradford, registering a single assist. Now on loan at St Johnstone though, things are looking up for the former Galway United man as he picked up his first professional goal in their 1-1 draw with Livingston in Perth.

Costelloe has featured in four of St Johnstone’s first five game this season, operating either on the right wing or as a striker

He was overlooked in last month’s Ireland U21 squad but competition is high in attacking areas, with players such as Tony Springett, Andrew Moran, Aidomo Emakhu and Sinclair Armstrong all featuring for their respective sides in the English Championship this season.

03) Jamie McGrath – Aberdeen

Aberdeen man Jamie McGrath had a birthday to remember as he scored in his sides 3-1 win at Ibrox.

After a poor start to the season, Barry Robson’s side are now surging back to the heights they hit last season, in no small part helped by the excellent form of McGrath.

A sometimes divisive player within Irish footballing circles, McGrath is a favourite among Kenny and his backroom staff.

Two goals in his last three games will only have solidified his position in Kenny’s squad, but competition has ramped up in the centre of the park.

Blackburn’s Sammie Szmodics has been untouchable this season with six goals and one assist in nine league games, his teammate Andrew Moran made waves during the week with two goals and two assist against Cardiff City, and Finn Azaz has continued to impress at Plymouth Argyle, registering three goal contributions so far this season.

Ireland’s creative midfielder epidemic could just be coming to an end.