Mark O'Mahony, playing her or Cork City in 2022 at age 17, made his Premier League debut with Brighton.[Inpho/Laszlo Geczo]

Pep's perfect weekend

It was a game that the Burnley goalkeeper will want to erase from the memory, but one that Cork-born teenager Mark O’Mahony will always remember. Burnley were holding on 1-0 for all three points against visitors Brighton when Arijanet Muric allowed a gentle back-pass roll under his foot into the goal. A few minutes later Brighton’s O’Mahony was brought on for his Premier League debut and was soon booked for pulling a Burnley shirt. The former Cork City striker has been a prolific scorer at U-17 and U-19 levels levels for the Republic and the 19-year-old is now in the Under-21 squad. His compatriot and fellow club member Evan Ferguson was absent through injury.

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Josh Cullen started for Burnley, who seem set to drop to the Championship next month. Elsewhere Andrew Omobamidele started at the back for Nottingham Forest, who drew 2-2 with Wolves where his Irish international colleague Matt Doherty came on a sub. And Nathan Collins started for Brentford, who beat Sheffield United 2-0 to claim their first win in ten EPL games and ease their relegation fears. Seamus Coleman came off at halftime in Everton’s 6-0 drubbing at Chelsea on Monday night. Rising superstar Cole Palmer got four of the home side’s goals.

Palmer’s former boss at Manchester City Pep Guardiola had a great weekend. After City boosted their goal difference with a 5-1 win over Luton Town at the Etihad on Saturday, Pep was able to sit back after his lunch on Sunday and watch his two big rivals for the EPL title, Arsenal and Liverpool, both lose at home. In the early kick-off Liverpool never recovered after Crystal Palace took the lead after 14 minutes when Eze finished a great move to score. It was the Eagles first win at Anfield since 2017. After the game Liverpool manager Jurgen Klopp admitted that he wasn’t happy having to talk about the defeat. He said: ‘‘I feel really rubbish. I am standing here and to talk about this game is really tricky. The first half was absolutely not good enough. We lost conviction from the last game against Atalanta on Thursday. We conceded the goal, which is a horrible goal. A completely free player in the six-yard box, that cannot happen. I do not think the way that we dealt with the United games particularly helped. We lost the game in the FA Cup and it was like a catastrophe because we were that good and lost it anyway. Then, we draw at Old Trafford in the league, and were really good for a long spell but just drew.’’ 

And it got better later in the afternoon for City and Pep as Arsenal were beaten 2-0 in North London by Aston Villa, who now move back into the Champions League places, as Spurs were beaten 4-0 by Newcastle United.  

Arsenal manager Mikel Arteta reckoned Arsenal should have scored five goals in the first half against Villa. He said: “The first half was one of the best halves we have played this season against a top team. We should have scored three, four, five, but we didn’t.” Arteta admitted the game changed after the break and his team struggled to gain momentum with Villa gaining more possession and creating more opportunities prior to their late goals from Leon Bailey and Ollie Watkins.

EPL results: Arsenal 0, Aston Villa 2; Bournemouth 2, Manchester Utd 2;  Bradford 2, Sheffield Utd 0;  Burnley 1, Brighton 1; Chelsea 6, Everton 0; Liverpool 0, Crystal Palace 1; Manchester City 5, Luton 1; Newcastle Utd 4, Spurs 0; Notts Forest 2, Wolves 2; West Ham 0, Fulham 2.


Last Thursday it looked like former Manchester United star Ole Gunnar Solskjaer was going to be the next Republic of Ireland manager. The Norwegian was made hot favorite by the bookies, who cut his price to 3/10 on. Posters on social media seemed certain that the 51 year-old, who has been out of work since leaving United in Nov. 2021, was going to be confirmed as Stephen Kenny’s replacement this week. However, when Ole was contacted by a Manchester-based journalist on Friday he admitted that while he had spoken to the FAI in January, he decided that the Irish job was not right for him and that there has not been any further contact with the FAI since then. So nothing definite, but we could possibly have an announcement this week.


The Irish Women were beaten 2-0 by England at the Aviva last week, four days after losing the first game of their Euro 2025 qualifying campaign 1-0 to France in Metz. Questions are now being asked of new manager Eileen Gleeson and comparisons are being made between her and former manager Vera Pauw. In the World Cup finals last summer when Pauw was manager, Ireland had nine attempts on goal against Australia, 13 against Canada and 10 against Nigeria. At the end of 2023 Ireland won all six games in the Nations League against weak opposition under Gleeson, but in the Euro 2025 campaign they had one shot on target against France and three against England and no goals in either games. Next up on May 31 is a home game against Sweden at the Aviva.



Liverpool’s hopes of advancing to the semi-finals of the Europa League are slim after they were beaten 3-0 by Atalanta in the first leg of their quarter-finals at Anfield last week. The second leg is in Italy tomorrow, and they’ve a mountain to climb to keep the dream of a Dublin final alive.


In the Championship Irish international Sammie Szmodics scored his 24th League goal of the season for Blackburn Rovers as they beat Leeds United 1-0 at Elland Road. Elsewhere Will Smallbone scored in the first minute for Southampton, who beat Watford 3-2 at St. Mary’s. Michael Obafemi was on target for Millwall in their 3-1 home win over Cardiff. At the top of what is a very competitive Championship Ipswich Town stay one point clear of Leicester City. The Tractor Boys drew 1-1 at home to Middlesbrough, while Leicester lost 1-0 away to Plymouth Argyle.


Manchester United will play Real Betis in a San Diego friendly on July 31.The game will be staged at the 35,000-capacity Snapdragon stadium where United’s under 21 team  lost against Wrexham last July. United were based in San Diego for much of their US tour in 2023, with Erik ten Hag’s training sessions held at the University of San Diego. This year, the team will be based in Los Angeles and will play Arsenal in the 70,000 capacity SOFI stadium on July 27.



Shelbourne, the early leaders in the League of Ireland Premier Division, suffered their first defeat of the season on Friday night when they were beaten 2-1 by Bohemians at Tolka Park. There is renewed interest in the League of Ireland and the old stadium on the banks of the Tolka river on Richmond Road. Drumcondra was bouncing with 5,000 partisan supporters crammed in on Friday night. Back in the 1980s, Tolka was able to host Irish soccer internationals and I remember a crowd of 15,000 supporters packed in for a friendly against Wales in 1981. Since then the stadium has fallen into disrepair and sections of the stands were deemed unsafe for spectators. But Shels, who changed their mind about ground sharing with Bohemians at Dalymount and now have new backers, are gradually expanding the capacity of Tolka. The Reds have 21 points after eight games. Derry, who drew 2-2 with Drogheda, are on 16 points, while Shamrock Rovers, after a poor start, are now on 15 points following a 3-0 win over Sligo Rovers at Tallaght Stadium on Friday night.