The final day of the Championship brought contrasting emotions for the Irish as the title and the identity of the last two teams to reach the play-offs was decided.
Ipswich and Derby began the weekend in the final play-off spots but Brentford and Wolves retained top six hopes.
Ultimately, it was Brentford and Ipswich who squeezed over the line. Defeats for Ipswich and Derby allowed Brentford leapfrog both after a 3-0 win over Wigan set up a play-off semi-final against Middlesbrough.
Jonathan Douglas, one of five Irish players in the squad, said: “We came in knowing we needed a bit of luck elsewhere but we concentrated on our job, put in a good performance and got a good win.”
Ipswich went down to a 3-2 defeat at Blackburn but Daryl Murphy’s brace — his 26th and 27th of the season — helped ensure Mick McCarthy’s men held on to the final play-off spot on goal difference at the expense of Wolves.
“I think so,” Murphy said when asked if — even in defeat — his goals were his most important this season. “We obviously didn’t know what was happening elsewhere during the game and the penalty (his second goal) was a little bit nerve-racking but I was confident I would score. At the start of the season our aim was to get in the play-offs and it’s up to us now.”
The Tractor Boys can now look forward to a semi-final clash with Norwich.
Derby were the big losers of the weekend as 3-0 defeat at home to Reading saw them slip to eight. Skipper Richard Keogh admitted the Rams had only themselves to blame having won just two of their final 13 games.
“For us not to be in the top six is a travesty really, but we’ve only got ourselves to blame,” he said.
Wolves missed out on a top six spot despite a 4-2 home win over Millwall that saw Aiden O’Brien net for the visitors.
Harry Arter was among the scorers as Bournemouth eased to a 3-0 win at Charlton, a result that saw the Premier League-bound Cherries seal promotion as champions after Watford slipped up at home to Sheffield Wednesday.
Eoin Doyle was on the scoresheet as Cardiff City won 2-1 at Nottingham Forest.
In League One, Darren Potter was among the scorers as the MK Dons sealed promotion after a 5-1 rout of Yeovil.
Meanwhile a Billy Clarke goal gave Bradford a 1-0 win at Crewe, Conor Hourihane scored in Barnsley’s 5-0 win over Rochdale, Anton Rodgers netted in Swindon’s 2-2 draw with Leyton Orient and a John Egan header helped Gillingham to a 3-1 triumph over Notts County.
In League Two, Michael Harriman was among the scorers as Luton beat Stevenage 2-0 but fell short in their play-off bid.
Elsewhere, Jimmy Keohane scored in Exeter’s 2-1 win over Dagenham, Seamus Conneely was on the mark as Accrington Stanley beat Mansfield by the same score and Jamie Devitt found the net in Morecambe’s 3-1 success over Southend.
In the Scottish Premiership, Aaron Doran scored as Inverness drew 1-1 at St Johnstone.
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