Politics aside, shouldn’t they play together?

So as another NornIron coach sets out on a mission impossible, while the coach of the Republic (at least in name – for now) heads off to an international championships leading the least favoured side in the competition, are there any sporting arguments against the two Irish associations stealing a play from the rugby crowd’s book and playing together?

Sure there’s politics involved but since many people pushing the political arguments are the first to claim that northern players should keep politics out of their deliberations on which of the two Irish Associations they should play for, why don’t we all do precisely that: Politics aside, why not play together?

Year after year we see a rugby team (and culture) that does the primary thing top level sport is all about: The team – temporarily backed by its various tribes – competes.

Perspective: One of the great and unacknowledged tragedies of the Irish potato blight was its future impact on Irish soccer. Where it not for the 1840s, in population-to-soccer terms, we could have been a Holland.

Can we not still?

  • Drumlins Rock

    no.

  • Reader

    Ruarai: Politics aside…
    …why not form a British Isles team?
    Ruarai: Where it not for the 1840s, in population-to-soccer terms, we could have been a Holland.
    The population has recovered several times over since then, but Ireland has dealt with any surplus over about 5.5 million by exporting its children. Ireland could have a good team by re-importing its diaspora.

  • michael-mcivor

    Well those who picked this new coach call themselves the-
    IRISH FOOTBALL ASSOCIATION-
    They do not say that they are the northern Irish football association-perhaps they would be to ashamed to change there name- time for 1 team-

  • Certainly fair to say that Ireland is the least fanciedof the 16 teams in Euro 2012……..but theres nearly 40 who didnt get that far. So in relative terms its a success.

    But as to the question itself.
    No……a letsgetalongerist fantasy Plan B……whilelets getalongerist fantasy Plan A is a homogenous Norn Iron.

    Much as I would like to see an all-Ireland team, it would be (as a perceived necessary compromise)take out so much trappings of my Irish identity (flag, anthem, President greeting visiting team, matches played in the national capital) that it would render the entire exercise useless.

    The nature of the compromises demanded by “our wee country” would go much further than the Rugby compromise. And would probably lead to northerners putting pressure on the rugby authorities to have the same kind of compromises.
    Rugby is of course not the Worlds game. ….in the same way Baseball is not a genuinely global game. There are few competitive matches at any level which dont involve eight traditional IRB nations. Effectively Ireland have a bye into the oddly named Rugby World Cup.
    The Six Nations involves at best three Home Matches over a two month period and Autumn Internationals have nothing at stake except Pride.

    Basically in Footballing terms, Ireland doesnt actually need the North to be competitive. It can reasonably expect to be first or second (at worst third in Worldor Euro qualifying groups. The North needs a miracle.

    Our shopping malls will have a lot of kids in Irish shirts next year. Our homes and bars and streets will be decorated with symbols of Irishness. With my birthday falling around that time, enough hints and I will have a shirt of my own.
    But whats the problem?
    We CAN play together.
    All a Norn Iron footballer has to do is send an email to FAI HQ and he or indeed she can be playing together with guys and girls from the South. Indeed some already are………so no problem.

  • Decimus

    michael-mcivor,

    Perhaps you are not aware that the IFA predates partition and it was the FAI which broke away from them?

  • If politcs were not an integral part of sport there would be no national teams, just clubs.

    Politically speaking, of course, it would make far more sense to have a UK-wide team than a team made of players from one sovereign state and a constituent country of another.

    And could there ever be such a thing as a non-political all-Ireland side when the very concept of unification of any sort is a major contention of debate within Northern Ireland and the Republic?

  • Decimus

    I would suggest that rugby remained an all Ireland game because the people who played it in the partition era were pretty much pro British and treated partition and the creation of the Free State with a degree of contempt.

  • Certainly one of the features of the old Lansdowne Road was the memorial plaque for members of the Lansdowne & Wanderers Clubs who died in the so called Great War. And yes the “garrison games” did retain a degree of West Briton ethos long after partition.
    Hockey, Cricket, Rugby Clubs such as Three Rock Rovers, Cork C of I, Limerick PYMA, Dublin YMCA, Pembroke have largely adopted a more Irish ethos.

  • sherdy

    Such a daft idea! You want to introduce common sense to our national sport!

  • iluvni

    For how long must this nonsense about the Ireland rugby team representing everyone (with its flags and anthems in Dublin and Belfast being designated an ‘away venue’) be trotted out?

  • michael-mcivor

    Decimus-

    ” perhaps you are not aware that the IFA predates partition ”

    Indeed i am aware- and it was good to know that the IFA did not sully its name by putting northern in front of it-

  • The yokel

    I believe Éamon de Valera was lifelong supporter of the Irish rugby team, and played the game in his younger days.

  • Decimus

    I believe Éamon de Valera was lifelong supporter of the Irish rugby team, and played the game in his younger days.

    The Dev was quite a guy. Responsible for a terror campaign that split the country and then for bankrupting the southern part because of his hatred of Britain. It is hardly surprisng that he is now believed to have been autistic.

  • Decimus

    Indeed i am aware- and it was good to know that the IFA did not sully its name by putting northern in front of it-

    michael-mcivor,

    Why should they have changed their name because of the actions of southern partitionists? How on earth would the word ‘Northern’ have sullied their name?

  • The yokel

    Decimus, what’s that got to do with rugby?

  • Decimus

    The Yokel,

    Well apparently the epic lunatic who was de Valera supported the game. Tenuous I know.

  • USA

    I am a football fan, love the game. I remember as a kid watching George Best, Johann Cryuff etc at Windsor Park. Went to every game, all the old “Home Internationals” etc. And I say the following purely from a football perspective and for the benefit of football.
    In my humble opinion the arguements in favour of a single Irish team (and a singel professional league) are compelling.

    Take the example of Greece. In 2008 they qualified for the Euros. They did not even get a point in the group stages yet their football association pocketed 7.5 million euros in FIFA participation payments. That’s some serious coin which the IFA or FAI could use to support the development of the game at home.

    Croatia made it through the group stages of the same tournament and pocketed a cool 12.5 million euros. Croatia has a population of 4.3 million. It’s pretty obvious that we are holding back the development of the game and the kids by having two associations / teams / leagues etc.

    Football all throughout Ireland is crap because it needs root and branch reform. It also does not operate in isolation. The GAA are very well organized and pretty much put football to shame. These other sports compete to attract players, the kids, they compete to attract revenue, bums on seats, they take large slices of TV budgets etc. All the while “football fans” argue about shite like which association predates partition. Wise up!!!!!!

  • Bismark was reported as saying that, if he had his way, the populations of Holland and Ireland would be exchanged and said that, within a generation, the Dutch would be feeding the whole of Europe and the Irish would have drowned themselves.

  • Tochais Síoraí

    One great positive of a unified soccer body in Ireland would be that it would halve the number of incompetent gobshites in postions of power.

    Which unfortunately, is one reason why it probably won’t ever happen.

  • It is rather a stupid proposition actually because it makes too much sense which we Irish are not renowned for.

  • Drumlins Rock

    Sure what are we speculating about, at the next qualifiers those south of the border will be playing for undoubtly the soon to be best team in the world, Merkozia.

  • unicorn

    Sport is bread and circuses. It is entertainment. Therefore we should, if anything, be dividing up land masses for sporting purposes on the basis of the maximising of the greatest entertainment for the greatest number. Maximising the likelihood of winning, such as by sending a single UK team to the football World Cup, or the British Isles sending five entries to the Eurovision Song Contest, or kicking China and the USA’s ass with a single EU olympic team, is not the criterion of success, since the point of the exercise is the provision of entertainment.

    Now we may all argue, as if it was objective fact rather arguing about the diet of unicorns or the true total population of Daleks in the Doctor Who universe, that there is one nation on the island of Ireland, or that there are two, or that there are one and a quarter, or twelve, but in terms of what is going on inside the minds of most people on the island of Ireland they are either part of a pretendy non-official all Ireland nation or they are part of a Northern Ireland nation, at least in the sense that England, Scotland and Wales are nations.

    Therefore at present there is a team for anyone and everyone to support and thereby to be entertained, if not in fact two teams we can support for those of us who are shameless floozies when it comes to our national identification. If you create an all Ireland team then you thereby deny hundreds of thousands of people (whether they might be Peter Robinson or Rory McIlroy) a right to see their nation compete in international football. Since the subject matter is entertainment it is the nation that exists in peoples’ heads that counts, talk of what actually is or is not a nation is moot for the purpose of this discussion. We are talking about showbiz here not international nuclear protection treaties.

    Well perhaps that reduction in the amount of people who are entertained would be more than made up for by a greater entertainment of those who would support an all Ireland team but who would never support a Republic of Ireland team or a Northern Ireland team, so they are presently “disenfranchised”. At least that’s what a Martian might think. However in reality such people scarcely exist since virtually all those people who believe themselves to belong to a pretendy all Ireland nation in fact have an ethnic / national affinity that is the same as that of the Republic of Ireland.

    I don’t discount that there are some people out there without an irridentist conception of Irishness who would point blank refuse to support the Republic of Ireland but who would support an all Ireland team, but lets face it, such a person would be an eccentric.

  • antoinmaccomhain

    @Bismark was reported as saying that, if he had his way, the populations of Holland and Ireland would be exchanged and said that, within a generation, the Dutch would be feeding the whole of Europe and the Irish would have drowned themselves.

    Hahahahahahaha-classic.

    @It is rather a stupid proposition actually because it makes too much sense which we Irish are not renowned for.

    George Best and Johnny Giles….

    Martin McGaughey and Mick Byrne….

    David Healy and Robbie Keane….

    If only…..They could just ban the bloody anthems and flags…..Get on with the footie…..

    The G.A.A. have fallen short in this department as well ye know…..It’s hard to believe that this is 2011….ffs….

  • john

    Congratulations to O’Neill, I wish him all the best. I would argue that his CV is very light and think it really is too early for him, I think Magilton would have been a better option but not a lot we can do now.
    As for an All-Ireland team I would support it but I know its not going to happen in the near future as Tochais mentioned earlier the main stumbling block isnt the political situation here but the incompetent suits at IFA and FAI earning easy money.
    The FAI should never have split away but they had their reasons as the IFA only seemed interested in the Belfast teams.
    The main argument for one team would be to look at the eighties. We had a very successfull Northern Ireland team which could have been further improved with the likes of Stapleton and Brady et al

    Reader – As far as Im aware the population hasnt recovered several times over as it is still 2 million below its peak in 1841 compare that to Englands population during the same period its gone from 15-52 million!
    As for the diaspora both teams are using the ‘granny” rule. I would even say both teams arent using it well enough most obvious missed opportunity was Rooney.
    Finally good luck to the Republic in Euro 2012. I think they may cause a suprise and certainly disagree that they are the worst team there. The Czech Republic needed to cheat against the mighty Scots to go through and I certainly dont rate Sweden, Denmark, Greece, Poland, Ukraine or even France.

  • john

    FJH
    I disagree with your analysis regarding any compromises that would be needed for an all Ireland team. If for example the IRFU stopped waving the tricolour from the Aviva and dropped the soldier song it would take absolutley nothing away from the rugby. Why could you not get behind the team in green or a shamrock symbol as strongly as the Tricolour. Granted Irelands call isnt great but it cant be that difficult to find an anthem that does get all Irish pumped for the big game

  • Reader

    john: Reader – As far as Im aware the population hasnt recovered several times over as it is still 2 million below its peak in 1841 compare that to Englands population during the same period its gone from 15-52 million
    My point was that Ireland has easily produced enough people to populate itself to ridiculous levels, but that before and throughout independence the population was capped by emigration. Even during the era of the Celtic Tiger it only reached 6 million. If the Irish were comfortable with English levels of industrialisation and population density then they could have had them. It didn’t happen. Emigration seems to have started again.

  • Quite why — and how — the association game survives across Ireland is one of the miracles of the age. I’d guess the season ticket for Cork Utd is not much more than than a one-off stand seat at many Premier Clubs. Or a month’s subscription to Sky.

    The main function, north and south, seems to be the export of some real talent.

  • Iluvni. Priceless complaint from NI soccer fans about IRB treating Belfast as an away game for anthems when they are the ones who want Belfast to be treated as seperate. You couldn’t make it up.

  • BryanS

    One great positive of a unified soccer body in Ireland would be that it would halve the number of incompetent gobshites in postions of power.

    Absolutely The alickados like their free trips. To have one association would be like asking the turkeys to vote for Christmas

  • galloglaigh

    Decimus

    Were Carson and Craig lunatics?

  • FuturePhysicist

    Sure what are we speculating about, at the next qualifiers those south of the border will be playing for undoubtly the soon to be best team in the world, Merkozia

    based on 1 from a Eurozone country logic…

    ——————-Constantinou———————–
    ——–Torosidis-Dunne-Kompany-Evra——–
    Ronaldo-Iniesta-Khederia-DeRossi-Sneijder
    ——————–Forssell———————-

    hmm would it beat Barcelona?

  • FuturePhysicist

    Finally good luck to the Republic in Euro 2012. I think they may cause a suprise and certainly disagree that they are the worst team there. The Czech Republic needed to cheat against the mighty Scots to go through and I certainly dont rate Sweden, Denmark, Greece, Poland, Ukraine or even France.

    A little unfair to the Ukrainians, they drew with Germany recently. Denmark have a decent team too, they still may have the upper hand over the Portuguese in Group B. You seem to think England have an easy enough group, we’ll see about that.

  • keano10

    Malcolm,

    Cork United actually ceased to exist in 1948 so perhaps you are a little outside your comfort zone in debating football related matters. The team is actually called Cork City.

    Furthermore the game (at least in The South) is’nt doing too badly. Shamrock Rovers created history this year by qualifying for the final stages of The Europa League and The Republic of Ireland have also qualified for Euro 2012. A decent enough effort all round methinks…

  • keano10 @ 2:06 pm:

    You are, of course, correct in two respects.

    You may, however, also recall that a reformed Cork United was in the League of Ireland in the early ’80s. And that’s nearer my vintage, as well as the source of my confusion (it may not entirely be the Alzheimer’s, then).

    Cork teams come and go at the behest of accountants. Which, I think, proves some of my point.

    Wasn’t the original Cork City the works team of the Ford factory and hence “the Tractors” (long before Ipswich Town)? Or is that another delusion?

  • Reader

    madraj55: Iluvni. Priceless complaint from NI soccer fans about IRB treating Belfast as an away game for anthems when they are the ones who want Belfast to be treated as seperate. You couldn’t make it up.
    There are two ways to accord the two traditions equal respect in Irish sport. The IFA/FAI split is one way; and the IRFU have failed to demonstrate commitment to the other way.
    I’m fairly easygoing about the decisions made by the IRFU – unlike maybe iluvni – but I won’t pretend that I think they have got it quite right, yet.
    I also think it’s fair enough for people (fjh1745, iluvni) to prefer the ‘separate but equal’ option if there isn’t a compromise that suits them. Or has that slogan been used before?

  • antoinmaccomhain

    @One great positive of a unified soccer body in Ireland would be that it would halve the number of incompetent gobshites in postions of power.

    It would also create jobs.The revenue that it would create would=win win for everybody.20 lads on 6/700 euro/punts/sterling a week x 32 clubs can’t be that complicated,or can it?

    @Cork City did actually have a Cork City F.C.,before Cork City Co-op F.C.-Great european side,but they hadn’t a patch on Rovers,the super hoops-Making a show of the country in europe.Not one point.Thank god they weren;t in the group stages of the Champions League.

    @Malcolm-Correct me if i’m wrong,but didn’t George Best play a few games for 1 of the 20 Cork teams at some stage?

  • Harry Flashman

    “Maximising the likelihood of winning, such as by sending a single UK team to the football World Cup, or the British Isles sending five entries to the Eurovision Song Contest, or kicking China and the USA’s ass with a single EU olympic team”

    Or the proposal by a UN official that in the interest of global peace and harmony the entire world would be represented by a single United Nations football team.

    When asked who the team would play the official replied;

    “Why, Israel of course.”

  • john

    FP
    You seem to think England have an easy enough group, we’ll see about that.

    Yes I do! I think all 4 teams in that group are mediocre but England SHOULD sail through it, but as usual the pressure from the fans and the tabloids will probably get to them and they will come home after 2 draws and a defeat. At least their group is slightly better than group 1 with Poland, Russia, Greece and Czech Republic. I bet Russia couldnt believe their luck with that draw. I dont know how Greece keep doing it their players are old and poor and yet they keep getting the results – I would back Northern Ireland every time to beat them.

  • Henry94

    Supporting the idea a united team tends to go with supporting the idea of a united Ireland so we have no chance of one without the other. The only other way to do it would be for the FAI to unilaterally disband and for clubs to apply for affiliation of the IFA. Of course they might refuse.

  • keano10

    Malcom,

    Yes, sorry. You are probably right about that. Was that following the demise of Cork Hibernians? I can vaguely recall them from my childhood. I had a look at Wiki after i read your post and was surprised to see that both Cork Teams at that time (Cork Hibs and Cork Celtic) averaged around 10,000 at their games and that Cork Hibs had a gate of 26,000 for a title decider against Waterford in the late 60’s. Those were the golden days I guess…

    As regards “The Tractors ” nickname I am honestly not sure about that but I am sure you are right.

  • john

    Henry94
    If there was a United Ireland tomorrow I would love to be a fly on the wall when the IFA and FAI have to sort out a deal. Would it be too much to hope for that the whole lot of them would get sacked and we could start fresh. Maybe we could get Jack Warner I hear he is free lol

  • Hopping The Border

    I really don’t see the need for NI & ROI to combine.

    Anyone born in nothern Ireland is free to play for the Republic of Ireland, just as they are free to play for Northern Ireland.

    Leave the choice to the individual and not force anyone to play for someone they would rather not.

    That way those that see themselves as Irish play for the Republic of Ireland and those that see themselves as Northern Irish play for northern Ireland.

    Everybody’s happy!*

    (* bar those who wish to tell their neighbours what political identity they should possess and represent in sport; thankfully that number seems in decline)

  • Mike the First

    “Politics aside”, my backside.

    Does anyone elsewhere in the world propose forming “international” football teams out of geographical entities that span across international borders?

  • Mike the First @ 6:19 pm:

    The Barbarians, for one example?

    In passing, the record number of appearances in the black-and-white hoops (and by a substantial margin) was by one A.J.F. O’Reilly. He may have been flash, but in his pomp he was great.

  • WindsorRocker

    Indeed Mike the First @6.19pm.

    There are no example where football crosses the boundaries of sovereign states.

    Malcolm @ 6.33pm, the Barbarians were an invitational team with no international standing.

    Generally, it is a bit facile to suggest putting politics aside in international football given the presence of anthems and flags.

    I’ll give you sporting reasons to keep two teams. It provides top class opportunities to a greater number of young footballers and allows football supporters of all Irish identities to participate in international football.

    If we want success then the argument for a single Ireland team is no less compelling than a single UK team, notwithstanding the fact that FIFA associations do generally fall within sovereign territorial boundaries. The logic of unification for success could even extend to a request for the IFA to be subsumed into the Brazilian FA and we’d get to a World Cup every year, although given our common cultural links the more logical conclusion would be a British Isles team where all the players who play together in EPL matches week in week out could play together (see that, I got the buzz phrase in too) whether they be from Dublin, Cardiff, Edinburgh, Belfast or London… heck, I suggest a combined Isles flag too… whatabout the crosses of St George, St Andrew and St Patrick all overlaid on one another?

    The Rugby argument is also a bit facile. The East West links in Rugby are very strong. The best Irish rugby players play for a British Isles team (effectively a pre-1921 UK team). The FAI was founded because the East West links that existed betwern the Home FA’s didn’t go down well in the newly independent Free State in 1923 and they left the IFA.

  • I doubt I could put it any better than WindsorRocker @ 12:26 am.

    This topic is about politics by other means: no Corinthian notions of “the game’s the thing”.

    One reason why sociologists and social historians take an interest in “sport” is because even the definition of the word has changed so radically:

    Modern sport entered the twentieth century largely as the private fiefdom of the new social strata born of industrialization and urbanization. It was a social innovation, confined to national boundaries, that had its roots in the emergence of new forms of sociability. Engendered thus by private initiative, the new sports associations and clubs pursued goals that were essentially commercial and hedonistic. What is more, for the most part they excluded women, labourers and certain ethnic minorities.
    What was interesting about these early sports developments is that in all European countries and the USA, the state displayed a total lack opt interest in the new movement…
    The defenders and promoters of sport could hardly have imagined, at the turn of the century, that sports competition would have an impact on public opinion and become an instrument of international policy.
    … Universalization of sport is the remarkable feature of the post-1918 world …
    What happened next was to change the face of sport: the coming to power of authoritarian regimes (communism from 1917, fascism from 1922, Nazism from 1933, Francoism from 1936) that put the role of sport near the top of the political agenda; it also put the international sports movement on the horns of a dilemma: to play or not to play with such regimes.

    [Source: Riordan & Krüger, editors The International Politics of Sport in the Twentieth Century. That’s from the opening paragraphs of the introduction, spelling and clichés as in the original. 250-odd pages of the same to follow.]

    Nationalist Ireland, courtesy of the GAA, anticipated that process by a couple of decades — but for similar political ends. Ever wondered why middle-class rugby was never divided by the Border, while working-class soccer was? I mean, it’s not as is there was any social manipulation, huh?

    Further afield, anyone recall La guerra del fútbol (July 1969)? Only about 3,000 casualties, and many, many more dispossessed and homeless.

    Cue Bill Shankly: “Some people believe football is a matter of life and death, I am very disappointed with that attitude. I can assure you it is much, much more important than that.”

    [For the record, national anthems were not used until the 1924 Paris Olympics — just in time for “Chariots of Fire”. The real banner-waving, torches and stuff stem from 1936, in … err … Nazi Berlin.]

  • Munsterview

    decimus: “…I would suggest that rugby remained an all Ireland game because the people who played it in the partition era were pretty much pro British and treated partition and the creation of the Free State with a degree of contempt….”

    Decimus: your all too apparent erronious postings, such as the above example, regarding basic information are regularly offered up without regard to fact, which begs the question, I wonder what you really know of life, be it historically or contemporary on the rest of this island outside of the Six Counties?

    Limerick was one of the most millitant ‘red flag’ worker soviet cities during the war of Indapendence and it also has a consistent millitant Republican history.

    It is also very much a sporting city; there is a lifesized monument celebrating sporting achievements in O’Connell St, the main avenue through town. It has two sportsmen statues, back to back in classical game poise, one is a hurler and the other is a rugby player!

    As Malcolm has pointed out, sport has complex roots and inane generalisations, expecially incorrect ones do not do too much to advance understanding of the situation.

  • Mike the First

    Malcolm

    Did the Barbarians ever play (association) football? (which was the sport I was talking about)

    They also aren’t even actually an international rugby team, but rather an invitational club side, as Windsor Rocker points out.

  • Chris Donnelly

    Hopping the Border has it spot on.

    There are great reasons for a united team but this can’t be separated from politics whichever way one chooses to look at it.

    Consequently, the current situation represents the best compromise, allowing any player freely to choose the international side on the island which he feels best represents his national identity.

  • Mike the First @ 2:18 pm:

    Since Ruarai specifically made the comparison with rugby in the headline piece, I feel my offering was in order.

    The Baa-baas date from 1890 (though have a provenance going a further half-dozen years back). They are strictly the “Barbarian Football Club” (there is a Barbarian Rugby Club in France) — but then Wimbledon is strictly the private All England Lawn Tennis and Croquet Club (and the “Lawn Tennis” bit was added years after). The croquet lawn is, I believe, buried under Court No. 2. The “invitational” thing hardly matters — I’m still waiting, six decades on, for the post to bring my invitation to play cricket for Yorkshire and rugby for Ireland.

    I’d suggest my earlier points @ 2:37 am still stand: the IFA (est. 1880) was as much a voluntary association as any other sporting body of the time. Only later did such things become semi-nationalized, and political.

    Anyway, now that tempers have cooled, why not schedule the replay of that 1921 Irish Cup final between Glentoran and Shelbourne which caused the split in the first place?

  • Mike the First

    Malcolm

    I was asking the question in relation to association football – if you wanted to try to bring rugby into it surely it would have been more straightforward just to mention the Ireland rugby team!

    By the way your understanding of the North-South split in football is quite muddled – the unplayed Glentoran v Shelbourne final was in 1919 and not connected with a North-South split. The IFA awarded the Cup to Shelbourne. A lesser known footnote is that the clubs actualy arranged between themselves to play a challenge match for the medals, which Glentoran won.

  • Mike the First @ 8:43 pm:

    Thanks for the correction. As I was reminded previously, I am “out of my comfort zone” here.

    I’m not wholly convinced that the events of the 1919 season were entirely divorced from “the North-South split in football”, if only because the whole business was so politicised anyway.

    As I dimly recall from a long-past reading, that 1919 Cup never went past the semi-final stage. The other semi-final was aborted when one lot of supporters (Belfast Celtic?) took allegedly took pot-shots at their rivals (Glenavon?), who were disqualified anyway for fielding an unqualified player. doubtless you can improve on that version.

    Beyond that, the Ulstermen were resented because they seemed to think they had a lien on the running of the IFA. Indeed, they had a strong claim for the original IFA was Belfast-based, founded on the Scottish model, originally adopting the SFA rule-book. There were serial “difficulties” in playing matches in Dublin, long before the War of Independence.

    All in all it seems a bit of an unhappy ship. My experience (at club level) is few resentments are quite as factious and fractious as those that plague local sports teams and associations. It looks as if the recipe still holds, even at the highest international level (FIFA, IOC, English rugby …), across a whole range of sports.

  • FuturePhysicist

    FP
    You seem to think England have an easy enough group, we’ll see about that.

    Yes I do! I think all 4 teams in that group are mediocre but England SHOULD sail through it, but as usual the pressure from the fans and the tabloids will probably get to them and they will come home after 2 draws and a defeat. At least their group is slightly better than group 1 with Poland, Russia, Greece and Czech Republic. I bet Russia couldnt believe their luck with that draw. I dont know how Greece keep doing it their players are old and poor and yet they keep getting the results – I would back Northern Ireland every time to beat them.

    Always depends on what Northern Ireland shows up. Group 1 or rightly Group A I call the group of intrigue, we know Russia are capable of playing good football and should be favourites to win the group but at the end of the day you have to say the seedings don’t lie. Greece are consistent enough to beat Croatia, drew with Russia recently, whether Poland and the Czechs are in the mix would be good to see, it does look like a good group for goalkeepers, as Akinfeev, Cech, Szczęsny are all on display against the likes of Samaras, Baros and Pavlyuchenko

  • Mike the First

    Malcolm

    Actually your understanding is pretty close to what happened in most respects. (And my use of 1919 was wrong, tried to correct it to 1920 but my second post didn’t show up!).

    The “Solitude riot” of 1920 involved an Irish Cup semi final between Belfast Celtic and Glentoran, which was abandoned after Celtic fans invaded the pitch, and one of their number fired a revolver into the Glentoran support. Celtic were dismissed from the competition, but then so were Glentoran for fielding an ineligible player. Shelbourne (who had beaten Glenavon in the other semi final) were awarded the Cup.

    There was indeed a “political/sectarian” dimension (according to the repertoire of songs and flags reported as being displayed by the Celtic fans, and indeed the differing focuses on the actions of the Celtic fans or reaction of the RIC made depending on the newspaper), but not linked to any North-South split as such.

    The 1921 Irish Cup semi finals again saw Glenavon and Shelbourne drawn against each other – the first match was in Belfast and was drawn; the Shels felt the replay should have been in Dublin but was again scheduled for Belfast – at that particular point a safer option given the situation in what was soon to become Southern Ireland/the Irish Free State, but one of the finals straws which convinced certain clubs to split from the IFA and form the FAI.

  • Im not sure why so much of the focus is directed at Football or even Rugby……….in Olympic year.
    This year the Olympic team of “Ireland” will be in London.
    This year the Olympic team of “Great Britain and Northern Ireland”.
    Competitors from Norn Iron will be on the Irish team.
    Competitors from Norn Iron will be on the British and “Northern Ireland” team.

    Of course there are two factors at play here. Firstly the question of national identity where people opt for the country of their nationality and the second factor is that some sports are organised on a 32-county basis. And perhaps a third factor is that somesports might be regarded as having a more “unionist” base and some might be regarded as more traditionally “nationalist”.

    But what about …….Hockey. A peculiarity is that (just like Football) Ireland, England, Scotland and Wales compete as seperate nations on the world stage……except at Olympic level.
    Keen Norn Iron sports fans might recall that Stephen Martin (Belfast YMCA) and Jimmy Kirkwood (Lisnagarvey) won gold medals with the “Great Britain and Northern Ireland” Olympic Team.
    Less wel known might be that Stephen Martin is Chief Executive of the Olympic Council of……….Ireland.

    Irish Hockey…..in part due to the flags and anthems issue ….is a late comer to the Irish Olympic scene and certainly in the past, a few Ulster hockey players have decided that they have a problem with this.

    Hockey is often labelled as a “garrison game” and certainly it seems to be dismissed as a West Briton game but I think this is unfair. In the South it is played at the (allegedly) better Catholic schools as well as being a major part of the Republics minority Protestant social scene thru clubs such as Cork Church of Ireland, LYMPA (Limerick Young Mens Protestant Assn) and traditional clubs such as Pembroke and Railway Union.
    There are also clubs such as Catholic Institute and other clubs based on “Catholic” past pupil clubs.
    In the North of course, this is a unionist game although not quite so obviously in Womens Hockey.

    The relevance to this thread is that one might expect the northern Hockey players (almost all unionist) to feel a connexion to the Hockey team of “Great Britain and Northern Ireland” (the clue is in the name).
    Yet in mid-March…..the Irish Womens Hockey Team will be in a six team tournament in March…..a qualification tournament for the Olympics.
    And the Men will be involved in a similar tournament in Dublin.
    About a third of the players will be from the North.

    This is of course to be welcomed. Frankly in Hockey terms the British team will almost exclusively be English. Team GB will include some token Scots and Welsh but there is probably some merit in not disrupting the continuity of an “England” team.
    I dont think anyone would suggest that the Hockey players from Ulster are “nationalists”. Rather it would be accepted they are making a choice based on an (outside chance” of playing at Olympic level.
    There will rightly be no vilification of them by supporters of “our wee country” who only reserve their ire for “nationalists” who reject the Norn Iron label.

    The movement of people thru Europe and the world is likely to increase these inconsistencies.
    Consider for example that a major country like……China, USA, Britain, is over-subscribed for Olympic places.

    If the 25th ranked lady Chinese Table Tennis player went to study in Coleraine, she would quickly establish herself as the top ranked person in Ireland and in the best five in Britain. But subject to residence would she qualify for Britain (after all she is granted permission to stay by “UK” Border Agency or Ireland?
    I daresay an Irish solution for an Irish situation would be worked out.

  • Mike the First

    FJH1745

    “There will rightly be no vilification of them by supporters of “our wee country” who only reserve their ire for “nationalists” who reject the Norn Iron label.”

    Stupid, stupid comment.

    Engage your brain a little. Try to think to yourself, why would a NI football supporter possibly by more interested in the NI football team than in international/Olympic hockey?

    The answer’s in the question. *rolls eyes*