How the Irish fared: Eoin Doyle finally turning things around

Remember when Eoin Doyle was scoring for fun? 

How the Irish fared: Eoin Doyle finally turning things around

This time last year the striker was banging them in for League One side Chesterfield and his exploits — 25 goals in just 33 appearances — were attracting bigger clubs. Celtic were among those linked with the Dubliner but it was Championship side Cardiff City who won the race for his signature with Doyle signing on the dotted line on transfer deadline day. It was a step up but, although a return of five goals from 16 games was hardly a woeful return, the switch to Cardiff proved the wrong move at the wrong time.

Another transfer deadline day switch followed, Doyle joining Championship rivals Preston on a season-long loan. But things have gone far from smoothly there too, Doyle netting just once in 15 appearances prior to the weekend.

But a new year brings new hope and Doyle started 2016 in the best possible fashion, scoring his first goal since November 3 to haul Preston level against Rotherham on Saturday. Doyle’s strike provided the impetus for Preston to claim a 2-1 win that moved them 10 points clear of the drop-zone.

“It’s been a great Christmas for us,” Doyle said. “It’s great to come from behind and get the three points and it gives us a great start to the year.

“We were a bit flat first-half and we weren’t doing things we should have been doing, but we changed the system and it seemed to come off. We had a good few chances and we could have scored a few more.

“We’ve pulled away from that bottom three and are looking towards the top half of the table — you always want to beat the so-called bigger clubs, but when you’re doing it against teams that are around you, it makes the win even sweeter.”

Elsewhere, Joe Mason scored the only goal as Cardiff City moved to within four points of a play-off spot after a 1-0 win over Blackburn.

It was a timely strike by Mason too, providing evidence he can fill the void that will be left by the departing Kenwyne Jones.

“I am delighted with Joe,” Cardiff manager Russell Slade said. “He has been a bit frustrated and his chance has come a little bit quicker than he thought. It will give him a huge boost and will take the weight of his shoulders.”

Mick McCarthy’s Ipswich remain in the final play-off spot after playing out a scoreless draw with Burnley.

“I loved the game,” said McCarthy. “It was an honest match, no whingeing from either side.

“There were some robust challenges but the players just got on with it. It was like a blast from the past.”

In League One, Jay O’Shea scored twice as Chesterfield hammered Shrewsbury Town 7-1 while Rhys Murphy netted in Oldham’s 1-1 draw with Colchester.

League Two saw a Rory Gaffney brace give Bristol Rovers a 2-0 success over Luton, Callum O’Dowda netted in Oxford United’s 4-2 win at Notts County while Jamie Devitt’s penalty wrapped up a 2-0 victory for Morecambe over Wycombe.

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