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Saturday 3 December 2016

Coleman hails happy double

Irish star dedicates goal to new baby daughter

Everton’s Irish defender Seamus Coleman celebrates his goal against Stoke on Saturday. Photo: Getty
Everton’s Irish defender Seamus Coleman celebrates his goal against Stoke on Saturday. Photo: Getty

The arrival of baby Lily into the Coleman household on Friday is, clearly, some very good news for the Everton footballer and his family.

So scoring a goal in a bog-standard Premier League win, proof (in case anyone doubted it) that Seamus Coleman could do the business away to Stoke on a cold and wet day, is not earth-shattering stuff.

But the sight of Coleman at full fitness, at peak form and scoring a goal for the first time in 28 games in all competitions this season, a goal which ended his 11-month scoring drought, will be welcomed by supporters of club and country.

Recent injuries appeared to have sapped Coleman's confidence as well as his energy, evident in his blatant miss against Swansea last month, and the sight of players like Coleman, James McCarthy, Marc Wilson and Shay Given battling with injury in the New Year and beyond was enough to concern Martin O'Neill.

At least the Donegal man was able to poke fun at himself before the finally managed end that run of 39 games, for Everton and Ireland, without a goal.

"It's only been the last couple of weeks they've let me go up for corners and I've missed a sitter against Swansea City, so I thought I wouldn't be allowed back up after that," he said after scoring in the weekend win over Stoke.

"But obviously they've seen that I got a bit of space at the back post that day and they've trusted me to get up for corners. Hopefully, I might now be up for the next one as well," added the Donegal man, who dedicated the goal to new daughter.

"My wife gave birth to a baby on Friday just before two o'clock, Lily Coleman, so there's no secret who that was dedicated to," he said.

"It's funny how these things happen but you just get a feeling that you're going to score the goal and it was great after what my wife went through and how proud I am of her to go out on the pitch and do that. You have to enjoy those moments and to score was special."

Coleman's goal will at least have made O'Neill's weekend more interesting, as it was pretty quiet in terms of contributions from his players, just 13 Irish players in action in the Premier League.

There was the worrying absence of Jon Walters from the Stoke City squad which took on Everton but manager Mark Hughes revealed later that it was an illness, and not a long-term injury, which kept out the forward. "He was ill after the (Manchester United) game Tuesday. He trained Friday, but rang in on Saturday," said Hughes, explaining Walters' absence. But there was a positive from that game as Glenn Whelan kept his place in the City side despite the arrival of record signing, fellow midfielder Gianelli Imbula.

A clean sheet for Rob Elliot, his first in two months, in Newcastle's win over West Brom is encouraging and with each week the 29-year-old is staking a claim for inclusion in next month's international friendly matches.

But the slide down the table of Norwich City is a concern, Robbie Brady back in the starting XI following illness. But the Canaries, with six straight defeats, are in freefall, and the form of Stephen Ward at left back in a confident Burnley side will give O'Neill food for thought as he plans for the March games.

Just one point off top spot in the Championship, Burnley are unbeaten in the league since Ward returned to the side in December.

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