Top 3 Irish performances of weekend: Finn Azaz strikes for Plymouth

Ireland U-21 cap Azaz made an instant impact off the bench on the weekend, scoring his seventh goal of the season as Plymouth Argyle defeated Portsmouth 3-1.

Finn Azaz – Plymouth Argyle

Azaz joined Argyle last July on loan from Aston Villa, and has impressed so far with seven goals and six assists to date helping his side to first in League One.

An ankle injury kept him out of action for ten league games over the winter, but he has returned with a bang contributing a goal and three assists in his last four matches. As well as his cool right-footed finish against Pompey, he completed 80pc of his passes off the bench and won two duels.

The 22-year-old is also eligible for Israel, but earned his first Ireland call up from Jim Crawford for the U-21 Euro qualifying play-off defeat to Israel last September. His recent form in League One will provide senior boss Stephen Kenny with some food for thought, ahead of next month’s senior squad announcement.

Killian Phillips – Shrewsbury Town

Phillips arrived at Shrewsbury on loan from Crystal Palace last month and has hit the ground running with a goal and two assists in his last three appearances.

His superb finish in their 3-2 win over Port Vale last weekend was his first goal in English football and helped Shrewsbury into eight after a sixth successive win.

“Buzzing to get my first professional goal in England. Great win, the fans were unbelevble. Six on the bounce, the boys have been lethal, we keep pushing!” said Phillips on Instagram after the victory.

The Kilbarrack native previously made 31 appearances for Drogheda United, before signing for Palace in January 2021. He impressed again for the Eagles’ U-21 side before his first loan move to Shrewsbury.

There’s no doubt the 20-year-old is a player who U-21 boss Crawford will be considering calling up for this year’s Euro qualifiers, with a friendly against Iceland scheduled in Cork next month.

Niamh Farrelly – Parma

It was a weekend to remember for Ireland international Farrelly, who netted her first goal for Parma. On her 16th appearance, she fired into the bottom corner from 30 yards to help her side to a 3-1 win over Sampdoria in Serie A.

“Three points, my first goal for the team and my first Italian interview,” she said on Twitter after the win.

While she was left out of Vera Pauw’s squad for this month’s training camp in Spain, she’ll be doing everything she can to earn a place on the plane to Australia in July.

Farrelly is a former Ireland U-19 captain, and was named the FAI’s U-19 Player of the Year in 2018. The Dublin native won a league and cup double with Peamount in 2020, before signing for Glasgow City later that December. A Scottish Women’s Premier League title followed with the club, before she signed for newly-formed Parma last July.


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