After #Euro2012 is it time to think about a single Ireland soccer team?

Well, as it was put on Morning Ireland this morning the Republic sang whilst Spain played football. The singing, whilst impressive, only annoyed Roy Keane the more.

The Corkman was blunt: “We’re a small country, we’re up against it, but let’s not just go along for the sing-song every now and again.” Translated, this roughly means: “this is sport, not entertainment”.

I’m sure my old Da, who never even saw Keane the elder play but who loved seriously competitive players in any kind of sport, would have agreed wholeheartedly.

What has marked Ireland (by which I mean the whole island, not just one big bit of it) has been the ambition of its sportsmen in proportion to its size of population.

That has been much more pronounced in recent years as codes have professionalised, and Irish sport has embraced the opportunities that’s brought. The Holywood Golf club I played as a junior tolerated kids, now they put huge efforts into bringing them on.

Now to last night’s match. Here’s the starting line up:

Given (Villa) O’Shea (Sunderland), Dunne (Aston Villa), St Leger (Leicester City), Ward (Wolves), Duff (Fulham), Keith Andrews (West Brom), Whelan (Stoke), Cox (West Brom), Keane (Los Angeles).

James McClean of Sunderland (late of Derry City, of course) is a young player with a great club future, whom Trap only brought out when it was far too late to shut the door. It’s also notable that English born players like Cox defecting to the Republic are rare these days.

Out of interest, I looked at the Northern Ireland squad from the 1986 World Cup in Mexico:

Pat Jennings (Spurs), Jimmy Nicholl (West Brom), Mal Donaghy (Luton), John O’Neill (Leicester City), Alan McDonald (QPR), David McCreery (Newcastle), Steve Penney (Brighton), Sammy McIlroy (Manchester City), Jim Quinn (Blackburn Rovers), Norman Whiteside (Man United), Ian Stewart (Newcastle), Jim Platt (Coleraine), Philip Hughes (Bury), Gerry Armstrong (West Brom); Nigel Worthington (Sheffield Wednesday)

Despite appearances, most of those clubs were in what qualified as top flight football at the time. And there were no super clubs. They were not that far short of the relative quality of the Republic team who took the field last night against Spain.

The truth is that world soccer has moved on a pace, even in the last ten years since Saipan. Great Irish teams only come along intermittently. It puts in some perspective the real damage Keane’s hissy fit may have done to his country’s World Cup record.

Irish Rugby responded to the the opportunity of the professionalisation of the Union code. It hardened the representative provincial teams into professional clubs. The benefits have been obvious not just from the haul of club silverware but probably the most sustained period of quality rugby at international level.

So the question occurs: how long can Irish soccer continue as a split house and expect to seriously compete at international level?

Of course it is not the first time it’s been asked. But there is something in the step change of quality in the international game that requires something of either ‘Ireland’ that it may not be able to supply from purely domestic reforms.

It surely cannot be done in the kind of backward way the FAI has started fishing (‘poaching’, if you prefer) northern players. It would require some will on the parts of two organisations to extend the kind of co-operation we’ve already seen in the Setanta Sports Cup for instance.

Yet given the deep attachments each following has to their own separate identities and the long cultural bifurcation that goes along with that, it is hard to see that there is much of an appetite for such a move.

But the greater question is surely, what are the limits to Irish and Northern Irish sporting ambition?

, , ,

  • Drumlins Rock,
    Ive always regarded you as my unionist alter ego.
    Proud of your British nationality (and you are quite right) as I am as of my Irish nationality (and Im also right).
    There have of course been various compromises involved in Irish sport…notably cricket, hockey (the four provinces flag) but with respect to them they WERE quite low profile..possibly not so much now.
    There is no compromise involved in the Olympics.
    There is a compromise involving the Ireland Rugby team……which appears to be Ireland (the nation) at home…Ireland the island while playing away…..and the IRFU while playing on tour or in the World Cup.
    Frankly “nationalists” get a better deal out of the “rugby” arrangement than “unionists”….and I would add Ulster is a nine county province.
    Simply put a compromise (not actually needed by nationalists) over Football would benefit “unionists”. …and would necessarily lead to pressure on the “rugby” agreement.

    With people from the North playing for Ireland, with banners in the Polish crowds indicating northern support, not to mention the northern accents on Sky Sports News,or even the reports on UTVor BBCNI, the notion of northern involvement in the “Republics” team is now more embedded than ever before.Almost two decades on from Loughinisland, Mondays armbands will strengthen the link with “northern nationalists” which is precisely the reason its being opposed in some quarters.

    Absolutely nothing

  • the future’s bright, the future’s orange

    Fair points fitzy. Sounds as though we’re all agreed 🙂

  • Valenciano

    This will never happen pre unification. There is not a single other FIFA member which consists of parts of two independent states and that’s a precedent that FIFA certainly doesn’t want to set.

    There’s an important change that people commenting have missed: the Euro championships will expand by eight teams in 2016 and that will give both Ireland sides a better chance of making it. The eight extra qualifiers would have included Rep Ireland in 1996, 2000 and 2008 and they would have been in a qualification play off in 2004. Northern Ireland would have qualified in 1996 and 2008. If one or both teams qualify on their own steam more often, the case for a merger gets weaker.

  • Valenciano. Even though the number of finalists in the climax of the euros increases, it wouldn’t necessarily cause much change in the qualifying rounds and there were nine groups this time. With only France given a bye through next time, that means eleven groups to filter the 53 teams down to 23.

  • lamhdearg2

    daniels, Two groups of 4?, surely not.

  • lamhdearg2

    52 teams (france through as hosts) that would mean, 3 groups of 4, should there be 11 groups,and 8 x 5, again surely not.

  • Billy Pilgrim

    Valenciano

    ‘There is not a single other FIFA member which consists of parts of two independent states…’

    I wonder though, if the FAI declared an end to its breakaway from the IFA, and the two associations informed FIFA that the historic split was over, and simply continued on as the IFA (founded 1880) – could FIFA stand in the way? (Even by its own lights, notwithstanding the political support the IFA Nua would, presumably, have, before such a detente could be possible in the first place.)

  • lamhdearg2

    I have not had my Ginkgo today so meheads a bit fuzzy, however i would suggest, 8×5 and 2×6, with the top 2 through, and then (fuzzy bit) some wacky best of the third place playoff.
    Or do the 2012 winners get a bye?

  • IJP

    Qualifying for Euro 2016 will be nine groups – top two in each group plus best third place qualify direct; the remaining eight third-placed teams play off.

    I begin to swell up with anger to think of it. Euro 2012, in common with all recent European Championships, has been a feast of high-quality football precisely because the quality teams qualify in a competitive format. Going to more than 16, with a group format which is complex and encourages negative play, is a demonstration of exactly the type of ludicrous greed that caused the economic debacle we’re all now suffering.

    Humans really can be incredibly stupid.

  • the future’s bright, the future’s orange

    these euros have been amazing. i agree – it could be a big mistake to change a winning formula.

  • lamhdearg2

    can someone divide 52 x nine for me, the closest i can get is 9×5 and 1×7.

  • lamhdearg2

    7×6 + 2×5,

  • lamhdearg2

    bedtime!.

  • Valenciano

    Lamhdearg, seven groups of six, two groups of five teams.

    IJP absolutely agree. One of the reasons why they went from 24 to 32 teams in the world cup was that they could never find a satisfactory mathematical formula. 1982 was probably the best attempt at it, six groups of four teams, top 2 qualify, then four groups of three teams with only the group winner through. That formula though didn’t satisfy the demand for more dramatic knock out football.

    24 for this tournament would have meant Estonia and Bosnia playing with maybe Armenia joining them. I doubt that would have made for a better tournament.

    Billy, interesting scenario, though I doubt it’s likely to happen as both federations merging would mean a halving of Irish teams in European competition. I think there’d likely be moves on the political stage first.

  • Mainland Ulsterman

    Northern Ireland, according to the Guardian’s reckoning during South Africa 2010, is the second most successful country in World Cup football per head of population (Uruguay, with 2 World Cups and a population of 2 million, pipped us). So definitely worth our place in international football.

    But more importantly, football is the only genuine cross-community mass participation sport in Northern Ireland and the NI team has always been cross-community in its make-up. The Northern Ireland football set up is an amazing opportunity – but a delicate flower that needs to be nurtured by those who care about changing things for the better in this part of the island. Looking to an all-island solution to save us all, in football as in politics, is just running away from the very Northern Irish issues we have – and if you’ll forgive extending the metaphor, trampling on that flower of reconciliation.

  • Billy Pilgrim

    MU

    Sorry, but that last post is laughable.

    As good an example as you’ll see of ideological prescriptiveness causing someone to be blinded to the blindingly obvious. It’s as if the history of the last century of Irish soccer is something of which you’re unaware.

    Those of us who are of Ireland and for Ireland have already found a way to participate in an all-Ireland team, on and off the field, despite the best efforts of the would-be border guards of Windsor Avenue.

  • Billy Pilgrim

    Valenciano

    ‘…I doubt it’s likely to happen as both federations merging would mean a halving of Irish teams in European competition…’

    I’m not saying I think it’s likely. I was just trying to deal with the point about obstacles FIFA might throw up.

    ‘…I think there’d likely be moves on the political stage first.’

    Funnily enough, I think footballing moves are more likely to bring it to a head – just as the Darron Gibson case has caused such an earthquake in recent years. Some day, perhaps soon, some gifted and ambitious young Protestant lad from some staunchly unionist area will declare for the Republic, and it will precipitate a major crisis in NI soccer – Taigs from Derry playing at the Aviva are one thing, but if the sectarian solidarity of Protestant Ulster should buckle…

    And it’ll just be because he fancies maybe getting to play in a World Cup. Or at least getting to play in a decent stadium.

  • tyrone_taggart

    “football is the only genuine cross-community mass participation sport in Northern Ireland ”

    Fishing, Basketball, running, Cycling…….

    “Northern Ireland football set up is an amazing opportunity ”

    The NI fans wrecked the one chance “Northern Ireland” had of a brilliant stadium for everyone. How they “trampling on that flower of reconciliation.

  • Mick Fealty

    Billy,

    That’s a very unkind description of the Guardian….

  • JoeBryce

    No brainer. Works for rugby and for the churches. Will surely work for soccer.

  • lamhdearg2

    Here are some football related news, that you wont have read about on the BBCNI “Northern Ireland” sports page,

    Release Date: 14/06/2012
    THE Football Union of Russia has confirmed that the 2014 FIFA World Cup Qualifier – Russia v Northern Ireland – on 7 September will be played at the Lokomotiv Stadium in Moscow.

    Release Date: 15/06/2012
    NATIONAL Women’s Coach, Alfie Wylie has named an 18 player squad for Wednesday’s UEFA Women’s Euro 2013 qualifier away to Norway.
    The game in Sarpsborg will kick-off at 6.00pm (local time).

    Release Date: 15/06/2012
    THE Equality Commission recently delivered Equality training for all managers in the Irish Football Association as part of the Irish FA’s Football For All campaign.

    The Northern Ireland Schools FA held the Annual International Dinner at which players on the Under 16 and Under 18 teams were presented with their international caps.In a successful season the Under 16 team won the Malta Cup at the Malta International Tournament at Easter while the Under 18 team retained the Lynn Nicholson Trophy in Jersey.

  • lamhdearg2

    “No brainer. Works for rugby”
    Hows that, in my experience (which is as limited as the next guys) most folk are either disinterested in the “Ireland” rugby team, as they dont see it as theirs?, or down right hostile towards it, supporting anyone but ireland.
    IF this is the the case,when rugby has been played on an all island basis from the start, how bad will it get, should these folk feel they are having their football team taken away from them .

  • tyrone_taggart

    “their football team taken away from them”

    Windsor park has a current capacity of 12,950 (20,000 after improvements). If the Northern Ireland football team was popular would it not have more supporters actually turn up to watch them?

  • Lamdearg [10.08] I tried to see if google would reveal this from wiki but they didn’t give any numbers for the qualifying round. ‘It’s not ideal’ was the response from a highly placed UEFA figure, referring to the fact that only eight teams would be eliminated after 36 group matches. It’s clearly a n awful waste of time which will have to be revisited before the qualifiers begin in the aftermath of Brazil WC2014. It would work with 24 teams of six groups if only eight went through[with two second placed teams and the six winners, but as it stands it’s a laughable arrangement and an insult to the european championship’s history. Since 1980 there were two groups only and if a team got out of the group stage it was 90 minutes from the final. and up to 1976 the finals started in midweek and it was all obver on the Sunday after..

  • lamhdearg2

    glass houses, TT, a full 20000 seater is better that a half empty 40000 seater. and even better still than a half emtpy 50000 seater.

  • lamhdearg2

    daniels, I dont suppose UEFA ,being UEFA, know what they are doing, as yet.

  • tyrone_taggart

    “glass houses”

    Please explain

    ” a full 20000 seater”

    That is the max attendance what is the current number who turn up less than 15 000? Would it be more than most GAA inter county matches?

  • antoinmaccomhain

    JoeBryce (profile)

    17 June 2012 at 9:56 am

    No brainer. Works for rugby and for the churches. Will surely work for soccer.

    Of course it would work. That’s why those in control don’t want it. Politicans interfering in community organisations is a disaster for the clubs. Irish clubs have no input on the National stage so it would be an irrelevency to the clubs. The National teams could split the difference if they so wished. We could have Oireland and Northern Ireland could be called Uladh Béag. That way the clubs could work towards an all-island league. That way the National teams would eventually benifit from the kids coming through the ranks. ‘Til then they’re relying on bangers for the England B Team and the England C Team.

  • lamhdearg2

    “glass houses”
    “Please explain”, RoI fan?, they do not fill the Aviva, 37000ect,
    Windsor is capped due to health and safety*, when its 20000, i dare say it will be full for competative games,

    *what would happen if the Gaa HAD to be all seater,

  • lamhdearg2

    Would it be more than most GAA inter county matches?,
    After looking at some figures, yes.
    and as i pointed out, Windsor is restricted.

  • tyrone_taggart

    “Windsor is capped due to health and safety*”

    That is the fault of the football organisation and no one else.

    As you have pointed out NI football association is an organisation who cannot even keep its main ground up to am acceptable standard that it does not make as much money in gate receipts.

    If one looks at those who turn out to watch there sport then NI football team has at best the support of a single county team:

    Some GAA grounds
    Healy park in Omagh capacity : 26,500
    Athletic Grounds: Capacity: 16,500

    This organisation has managed to lose what ever support it had in half of its pool of supporters by its political stance on passports.

    Lost a bundle of money over its treatment of an English person whom they employed.

    The question should not be about an “All Ireland team” but why do we give so much money to such a badly run organisation with the support of a county team?

    BTW:
    “Gaa HAD to be all seater”, they would put them in! For example Healy is putting in another 5000,,,,,

  • tyrone_taggart

    lamhdearg2

    Would it be more than most GAA inter county matches?,
    After looking at some figures, yes.

    So when did they last fill an 80 000 stadium?

  • Lamhdearg2 [I suppose with Platini track record as chief it’s not going to get much better. he seems facvourable to the Irish+Scots hosting the 2020 finals but I doubt Wales would be alloed as a third host getting a free ride would be pushing it even with a 24 team finals.

  • lamhdearg2

    TT, I am not a big fan of the ifa, or how its run, so dont expect me to jump to there defence. however the all seater was brought/forced in by footballs goverment UEFA.
    Dont overblow attendences at county games,there are plenty of sub 10000,

  • lamhdearg2

    daniel, as a Juve fan its not easy for me to knock Platini, but i get/take your point,
    ps 2020 finals, F*** Wales, any room for Our Wee Country, (insert smiley).

  • tyrone_taggart

    Not the lowest NI attendance but the funniest.

    “The game between Wales and Northern Ireland was attended by only 529 fans, many of whom were Scots who happened to be in Dublin”

    Wikipedia

    You cannot blame UEFA for the fact that the Northern Ireland football association cannot get its act together to put together a stadium with 20 000 seats.

    The reason why I have picked Tyrone is they are currently building a 40 acre, £6 million Tyrone GAA Centre of Excellence without much support from NI PLC.

    Tyrone has more active supporters, is better organised and gets things done. The question is why do they not get equal treatment with the Northern Ireland football association. (BTW: the probably have more training camps etc than the NI football association.)

  • lamhdearg2

    “Tyrone has more active supporters”, explain!.

  • tyrone_taggart

    Club Tyrone Member (£500 per year) to support the GAA in the county for that they get….nothing except to bring on GAA/sports (Running/cycling…) in the county.

    There is an army of volunteerism in Tryone GAA that could be equaled but not surpassed. This is why there is so many training camps etc in the county.

  • lamhdearg2

    TT, I have doubt Tyrone Gaa (or the Gaa in general) has many “active supporters”, I am just wondering how you ascertianed that Tyrone has more “active supporters” than the I.F.A., or is it the Northern Ireland team, your comment is unclear.

  • tyrone_taggart

    Sorry Lamhdearg2 if they can have more people attending a match ie say 40 000 then one can say that they have more “active supporters” who will go to a match.

    They have more “active supporters” taking part in training camps etc than the IFA .

    I think that on both grounds they have more “active supporters” than the IFA.
    I have

    Tyrone supporters are currently very suppotive of there county and its managment they would never take the line of
    “lamhdearg2 (profile) 17 June 2012 at 5:30 pm
    TT, I am not a big fan of the ifa, or how its run, so dont expect me to jump to there defence,”

  • Mick Fealty

    Back on topic…

  • lamhdearg2

    Mick, is there any way you could change it, so that when one types a long (or short) comment, scrolls down to read it (my spelling/grammer is bad) and clicks on the lower box, it submits it, instead of deleting it. I have just done it twice in a row, and I am shocked at the language this caused me to utter.

    TT, the comments lost where directed at yourself, I have no intention of typeing the full version again, but the gist of it was, population, do the math, agree to disagree. Goodluck.

  • lamhdearg2

    Mick, I do not expect the “change”, I am just letting of steam,steam caused by my own stupidity.

  • lamhdearg2

    grammar, told you.
    off topic i know, but sport (of a type), check out the tennis guy, losing it at Queens,(bbc sport web site) talk about act in haste repent at leisure.

  • WindsorRocker

    JoeBryce 17 June 2012 at 9:56 am

    “No brainer. Works for rugby and for the churches. Will surely work for soccer.”

    The history of football on the island of Ireland is a lot different to the history of Rugby Football and the Churches.

    Upon the advent of the Irish Free State, Rugby and the churches stayed in united bodies as they were able to accomodate the varying identities within their structures. Many of the structures were actually either Northern Ireland based (in the case of the churches) or had a strong East West dimension to them as in Rugby where it remained a Home Nation and continued to send its best players to play for the British Lions.

    In Football however, the presence of both a Belfast base and a strong East West dimension (in the form of the IFA being a Home Association and one of the four British associations on the IFAB) led to southern clubs breaking away. Over the past 90 years both associations have evolved. The FAI is the very proud representative of an independent Ireland which has no ties to the UK and the IFA has continued its proud tradition as a British association within the FIFA/IFAB structures.

    Bearing that context in mind it is naive to suggest that what can be applied to Rugby and the Churches could also apply to a sport that has a completely different history.

    Would an All Ireland football team be a part of the IFAB as a British association?
    Would the Soldiers Song either be only reserved for Dublin home games or not played at all by an Irish football team?

    Would Irish football fans from Dublin be happy to have the Queen or Northern Ireland Secretary of State as their official VIP guest at games instead of the ROI president?
    Would Irish football fans from the ROI be happy for the St Patricks Cross to be the team flag?
    Would they be happy for the Ulster banner to fly along side the Tricolour if a two flag solution was adopted?

    And for anyone who naively pleads for politics to be left out of international sport, the clue in is the “international” bit….

  • Alias

    The bigger clue is in the Olympics. National teams compete against other nations, not individuals against other individuals, with flags and anthems galore and nationalism promoted.

    What would be the point of the state sponsoring individuals? Private indulgence must be financed privately.

  • IJP

    Valenciano

    Yes, it is worth pursuing that point.

    Firstly, only one game at this tournament hasn’t been competitive (the one that started this thread, as it happens), and that is because only the very best teams are playing. The four-goal margin was the first since 2004. With Ireland already some way off the pace, so why on earth add Estonia (a team they thrashed in the playoff) to the mix?!

    Secondly, a format where the majority of third-placed teams make it through encourages negative play. One win alone will be enough to proceed; sometimes two draws will do it (admittedly slightly less likely with three for a win). So, if you take Ireland’s group, essentially all each of the others would need to do is beat Ireland; remembering that there will be weaker teams than Ireland in each group.

    Thirdly, who wants yet another knock-out round? Has not each and every group in this tournament been gripping?

    Fourthly – and here’s the real thing – there isn’t a chance I as a family man would have time to watch most games of a 24-team tournament, nor would I want to (because, as aforementioned, most of the group games would inevitably be dire). So it actually makes no economic sense – more is less, less is more, have we really not grasped that yet?

    It’s none of the first three which make me swell up with rage, by the way – it’s only football. It’s the greed and stupidity which lies behind it (and which thus omits the realize the fourth point above), which is representative of so much of what we in the West have done in recent years, which makes me swell up. We really must learn the value of moderation. Making mistakes is one thing, but failing to learn from them is criminal.

  • tyrone_taggart

    Mick
    Back on topic…

    There already is an all Island football team. When you can pick from the whole Island and Derry city plays in the southern league as they don’t fit in the northern one(see “Belfast Celtic”).

    The question is what to do with “IFA”? The football association as Alliance would put it for the “greater Belfast area”.

    As lamhdearg2 points out the IFA “population” does not include Derry or even West Belfast as both areas had strong football teams who did not fit in the IFA /their fans view of an acceptable team. So we can only judge there actual popularity by how many people turn up to watch them and on that basis they are a county team smaller than Tyrone. Doing “the math” they then should be funded on the same basis of Tyrone.

    It is such a pity that the IFA fans could not have “agree to disagree” for its entire existence. The inability for a strong “nationalist” side in their football league was bad. When the IFA fans boycotted the “Carling Nations Cup” after years crying that they wanted it back then you knew there is no hope for them.

  • Mike the First

    tyrone taggart

    “Not the lowest NI attendance but the funniest.

    “The game between Wales and Northern Ireland was attended by only 529 fans, many of whom were Scots who happened to be in Dublin” ”

    If you didn’t know there was a boycott on for that game, then you’re stunningly ignorant and should maybe sit out the whole commenting thing until you gen up a bit.

    “The question is what to do with “IFA”? The football association as Alliance would put it for the “greater Belfast area”. ”

    Ballinamallard United are in the IFA Premiership next season, as are for example Portadown and Dungannon Swifts. IFA Championship 1 contains the likes of Dergview, Coagh United, Institute (Drumahoe) and Limavady United. Never mind the fact that the IFA has hundreds of member clubs from right across Northern Ireland. Showing your ignorance again there.

    “As lamhdearg2 points out the IFA “population” does not include Derry or even West Belfast as both areas had strong football teams who did not fit in the IFA /their fans view of an acceptable team.”

    So you’ve just never heard of Donegal Celtic then?

  • Mike the First

    SK

    “I think when people see such pettiness emanating from “Are We a Country” fans”

    Oh the irony, given the pettiness of what you did with the 10th to 13th words above…

  • tyrone_taggart

    “Mike the First”

    “If you didn’t know there was a boycott on for that game”

    my previous answer to that:

    When the IFA fans boycotted the “Carling Nations Cup” after years crying that they wanted it back then you knew there is no hope for them.

    ” hundreds of member clubs from right across Northern Ireland”

    How many off there members and supporters actually support the other association on the Island?

    “Ballinamallard United ”

    The IFA fans did not want the “combined stadium” as it was to far outside of Belfast. I think tha tells you were the majority of there fans are.

    ” Donegal Celtic”

    Why are they beating Linfield? When they start doing so …….

  • DT123

    tyrone taggart.

    “When the IFA fans boycotted the “Carling Nations Cup” after years crying that they wanted it back then you knew there is no hope for them.”

    The NI fans occassionaly may have thought about a reintroduction of the British Home Championship(Home Internationals).However the “Celtic Cup” bore/bears no resembelance to that.A rediculous format,with the RoI replacing England was never going to work, as any “IFA fan” would have told you had you asked.

  • DT,

    A rediculous format,with the RoI replacing England was never going to work

    Forgive my ignorance, but perhaps you could explain why?

  • keano10

    “The NI fans occassionaly may have thought about a reintroduction of the British Home Championship(Home Internationals).However the “Celtic Cup” bore/bears no resembelance to that”.

    Erm – The Celtic Cup DID bear one resemblance to the final Home Championships tournament. At the end of the Celtic Cup there were also green and white ribbons adorning the trophy – Only this time they belonged to The Republic of Ireland… 🙂

  • tyrone_taggart

    DT123
    “A rediculous format,with the RoI …..as any “IFA fan””

    Are the Managment of the IFA fans or not? They went with the idea! The fans destroyed a means by with there “team” could make money.

    I have no problem with the IFA fans getting what they want. “No Stadium”, No “Nations Cup”, “No Derry city” they should though not expect others to provide funding in excess some one doing the “math” on there actual level of support.

  • Mike the First

    Dec

    “I’m not sure it’s as cut and drid as that Mike. Certainly the footballing authorities of the time didn’t impose the two associations on the island after 1921. Rugby, tennis, hockey, cricket etc have no issue with the concept and I’m not sure why football would. Is having one International team for two neighbouring states any more outrageous than having four international teams for one political jurisdiction?”

    It’s not just the UK teams that compete in international football based on component parts of sovereign states – see Denmark and the Faroe Islands; China, Hong Kong and Macau; the Netherlands, Aruba and Curacao. There is plenty of precedent for this: none for allowing teams to be amalgamated together across international borders.

    (In fact taking the case of what was the Netherlands Antilles as an example, when it was dissolved into two separate parts of the Kingdom of the Netherlands in 2010, its international football team was also dissolved as soon as practically possible, with Curacao taking its FIFA membership and Sint Maarten having to apply anew).

    If it where allowed for the island of Ireland, what not others? Hey, let’s have a Benelux team (for example).

    The post-1921 situation you mention bears little relevance to the modern game, for various reasons: the British Associations withdrew from FIFA between 1920 and 1924, and again between 1928 and 1946; UEFA didn’t exist until 1954; and the IFA’s Ireland team didn’t play in any FIFA competition until the British Championships were used as a 1950 World Cup qualifier.

    “Anyway, it’s a moot point as the IFA and the vast majority of NI fans don’t support the notion”

    Agreed.

    “and the rest of us already support a virtual all-Island team.”

    Well, in one way yes, though it can only select ROI citizens. I’m not sure how many ROI fans would really want an all-Ireland team if it meant losing their flag and anthem, incidentally.

  • The MP Kate Hoey still goes on about the last Home international event in 1982 which NI won only because England and Scotland had already abandoned the series, so she ends up looking ridiculous. It’s been proven beyond doubt that the Carling Nations cup is a dead duck and Carling will wisely spend their money elsewhere in future having been stung where it hurts. in the pocket.

  • DT123

    Andrew Gallagher.

    It was a rediculous format in trying to play it in one city ,instead of a “home and away” basis,even had that been on alternate years.How many did they ever expect to turn up to watch a meaningless game between Scotland and Wales in Dublin?Replacing England with the RoI was always going to be the final nail in the coffin.(Obviously not through choice ,but because England were not interested)

  • DT123

    danielsmoran.

    I think you will find that England and Scotland both played in the competition.

    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/1984_British_Home_Championship

  • tyrone_taggart

    “expect to turn up to watch a meaningless game between Scotland and Wales in Dublin?”

    Wales is only a boat trip to Dublin.

    As for the Scottish they even turned up for the Wales and Northern Ireland match.

    “The game between Wales and Northern Ireland was attended by only 529 fans, many of whom were Scots who happened to be in Dublin for their country’s game two days later.”

  • the future’s bright, the future’s orange

    oh hear, another drubbing and a man sent off…

    keano won’t like all this singing.

    Officially the joint worst performance ever in the euros as well….

    Ah well, at least we have another ‘home nation’ to support 🙂

  • Alan N/Ards

    Billy

    I used to think that you were a half decent spud and were someone who could see the best in everyone, however flawed they might be. Unfortunately, your obvious hatred hatred ofall NI fans is shining you in a new light.You need to let go. Really sad.

    Chris

    I think you have hit the nail on the head. The time is not right for an all island team. I personally don’t have a problem with it but like rugby, I believe that NI fans will get shafted regarding flags and the anthem issue, and NI football fans unlike rugger fans, would not stand for that. Maybe someday when the dust has really settled from the troubles it might happen. Who knows maybe Ireland’s Call will be sung with gusto around Windsor Park someday. Until that day I will support the team that has players who are from both sides of the tribal divide. Billy, of course, can support his team, which draws it players from his “tribe” only.

  • Billy Pilgrim

    Och Alan, calm down.

    I most certainly don’t hate NI fans. I’ve attended Windsor myself, and though the NI team could never be mine, nevertheless I delight in seeing the local lads do well.

    But I am not unaware of the record of NI soccer, and much of the unpleasantness that has surrounded it, and still surrounds it.

    The truth is that NI soccer has little to recommend it, at any level – the football is dreadful, the facilities are a joke, the administration an ongoing scandal, the fanbase tiny yet shrouded in notoriety, and many of the best players are deserting it – but the record of this particular footballing culture is such, that there is justice in its failure.

    I’m sorry if mention of NI soccer’s record angers you, but your anger is not a reason for me to pretend it doesn’t exist, or doesn’t matter.

  • Billy Pilgrim

    Incidentally, on the question of ‘NI fans’ – how are we to define this subset of the population?

    How many of these people are there? Ten thousand, maybe? Fifteen at a push?

    Certainly, the stadium saga made one thing clear – diehard NI fans are terrified by the thought of a stadium that holds more than 20,000. Which gives a pretty good picture of the maximum number of ‘NI fans’ there are, even on a good day

    So why does this small subsection of the soccer-loving public think it has a right to a privileged position in these debates?

    ‘NI fans’ make up but a small percentage of the people who live in NI who are interested in soccer. Indeed, they’re probably not even be the most popular international team in NI – you’ll find as many, if not more northerners at the Aviva than at Windsor.

    So why should the preference of ‘NI fans’ as to how they’d like to be represented in international football, take precedence over anyone else’s?

    Who do the self-appointed ‘NI fans’ think they are?

  • Billy Pilgrim,

    ” – you’ll find as many, if not more northerners at the Aviva than at Windsor.”

    12,000 NI based ROI fans at the Aviva? You’re having laugh or a smoke of the exotics. But go on, let’s see your proof;) The vast majority are armchair/pub fans.

    “So why should the preference of ‘NI fans’ as to how they’d like to be represented in international football, take precedence over anyone else’s?”

    We have a right to say how we would like to be represented- whether people (in particular FIFA, UEFA) listen to that opinion is out of our hands but still we have that right.

  • tyrone_taggart

    oneill

    “We have a right to say”

    True but no more than anyone else.

    “The vast majority are armchair/pub fans.”

    Using that criteria then you fan base is truly tiny (the reason why I did not pick it). Sky sports is not even in everyone ones homes.

    I would guess most NI fans watched the Irish team? Do you think that then makes them fans of the team?

  • TT,

    I was disputing BP’s point that more NI people physically go to watch the ROI in Dublin than NI at Windsor. How many NI people do you think attend a typical ROI game?

    I think active fans of any sport should be defined as those who actually attend the games and pay to keep the sport going.

    It’s an old-fashioned pov in the modern SKY-dominated world but I believe their voice should carry more weight rather than those who merely sit on their sofa with a can clapping at the telly or even those “fans” pumping Twitter and facebook full of uninformed nonsense.

  • keano10

    O’Neill,

    You are on shaky ground here bringing up the level of support for the respective international teams here in The North.

    I do travel to all of the games at The Aviva and therefore I am much better placed than you to comment on how many travel down to each game. There are many thousands from all over the North who travel from Belfast, Derry, Portadown, Newry, Armagh etc. This information has also been confirmed by the FAI in the past.

    As for Northern Ireland – They could only attract paltry attendances in their qualifying group of 12,000 for the Estonia game and the Faroe Islands. (Well below Winsdor Park’s tiny capacity of 15,200).

    Bearing in mind there are a million and a half people living in the North, that shows that Northern Irelands football team cannot even attract support from the ‘majority’ population, never mind the old chestnut of attracting Catholics. The Ulster Rugby team are better supported than Northern Ireland are.

  • This information has also been confirmed by the FAI in the past.

    When?

  • keano10

    John Delaney has spoken in the past on several in interviews about the huge number of block booking season ticket holders from the North and he has constantly mentioned the large numbers of Northerners who have travelled in their thousands to away games to support Ireland. He also meets them frequently at away games all over Europe and it is believed that this level of support played a major part in the FAI’s decision to ask UEFA to allow Ireland to wae black armbands last night in memory of Loughinisland. It is no coincidence that UEFA were happy to approve thsi request.

    O’Neill, it probably may not fit into your sense of perfect reality that thousands of Northerners travel regularly to support their country, but unfortunately that is the way it is.

    You should maybe concern yourself more with the fact that Northern Ireland are regularly incapable of filling a 15,000 seater stadium and also the fact that that most middle-class Unionists wont go anywhere near Windsor Park. They prefer to go to the less sectarian surrounds of Ravenhill instead.

  • Keano10

    Still no hard evidence that the number of ROI travelling from NI is more than those attending home games at Windsor- that’s all I was asking for. The number of blockbookers from NI would have been a handy rebuttal of my point. But no.

    O’Neill, it probably may not fit into your sense of perfect reality that thousands of Northerners travel regularly to support their country, but unfortunately that is the way it is

    So, I guess I will just have to accept yours, Billy P’s and er…. the ever trustworthy Mr Delaney’s word on that.

  • tyrone_taggart

    TT,

    ” How many NI people do you think attend a typical ROI game?”

    I don’t know? I did look.

    Do you know how to get the figure for the “The number of blockbookers from NI ?”

  • tyrone_taggart

    “It’s an old-fashioned pov in the modern SKY-dominated world but I believe their voice should carry more weight rather than those who merely sit on their sofa with a can clapping at the telly or even those “fans” pumping Twitter and facebook full of uninformed nonsense.”

    Then you agree with me the IFA should be treated as a sporting organisation that gets 12000 attendance on a good day?

  • DT123

    The NI haters are really not hiding their obvious embarassment at the Republic’s Euro debacle very well.

    Calm down guys,I’m sure your Italian manager,English ,Scottish and Northern Irish players will improve in the future.

  • stewart1

    ‘Calm down guys,I’m sure your Italian manager,English ,Scottish and Northern Irish players will improve in the future.’

    DT123

    You are aware that 5 of the starting 11 for NI against Holland in the recent 6-0 drubbing were English & Scottish born players, some of which had represented their other countries internationally?

    You see how silly your above comment looks when faced with the reality of the make-up of NI teams?

  • DT123

    Stewart ,

    Were any of them without a parent or grandparent born in NI?

    Does the fact that the Republic have never qualified for anything,with an RoI born manager?Is there a reason for that do you think?

  • tyrone_taggart

    “DT123
    Stewart ,

    Were any of them without a parent or grandparent born in NI?”

    Maik Taylor?

  • fordprefect

    Personally, I think it wouldn’t matter whether there was an all Ireland team or not, they would still be shite!

  • lamhdearg2

    Big Alan McDonald RIP.

  • stewart1

    tyrone_taggart

    Ssshhhh! Don’t want to spoil DT123’s rant.

    Maik Taylor’s German mother’s second cousin went to the Giants Caseway when she was 10. I think that was how he qualified for wee ni?

    Or perhaps it was just the IFA taking advantage of a FIFA rule that existed at the time.

    The fact that the ni starting eleven against Holland consisted of two former England internationals, a former Scotland international & two other English born lads seems lost to DT123?

  • the future’s bright, the future’s orange

    Fair point about the english players in the NI side – when then as part of the UK, we’re happy enough.

    Must be hard for all those hard-nosed northen republican fans to support the English B team down south though? You may as well just support England and be done with it lads 😉

  • tyrone_taggart

    the future’s bright, the future’s orange
    “northen republican fans to support the English B team down south though?”

    So that is your view of the Irish team. If you think they are the B team the N Ireland team must at best be C?

  • According to the journalist Ciaran o Raghallaigh today McClean and Gibson are quitting the ROI’s international football . McClean has stated ‘its a shambles, you can quote me on that’; Gibson has pondered ‘what’s the point’.

    Disturbing lack of (em.. what’s the word? Ah…) loyalty from the two Derry lads there.

  • salgado

    oneill – do you have a link for that?

    I’d be a bit surprised at Gibson quitting tbh. It sounds like nonsense to me.

  • onward

    When Casement Park is redeveloped into a 40,000 all seated stadium I’d like to see the Ireland team playing a game there. If they can play friendlies in Thomand Park and London then why not Belfast?

  • Hopping The Border

    Just back from Poland and I see there has been some lively discussions on football (soccer) and all things Irish North and South!

    Here is a picture of the News Article O’Neill is referring to from Ciaran o Raghallaigh’s twitter – you will have to read it sideways!

    http://twitter.com/Ciaran_O/status/216883176449130496/photo/1/large

    As for the content, if it turns out to be accurate, on which I would have my doubts, then frankly I think McLean – to use that delightful northern phrase – “needs to wind his neck in” .

    He is a good young player with at least a decent international future but that is where it stops.

    Fringe players do not dictate the team and certainly should not publicly challenge the manager, irrespective of whether they are media darlings/darlings of the public.

    We are all unhappy about the way IRL results went in Poland but you win as a team and lose as a team.

    If McLean or anyone else thinks they are above that (which again I think is unlikely and this is some stirring/twisting) then they know where the door is.

    That is not my opinion based on anything but the way a TEAM operates.

  • salgado

    Cheers. He didn’t have that on his twitter when I posted.

    I’d say it’s just frustration, and it’ll all blow over by the time the next qualifiers start.

  • the future’s bright, the future’s orange

    Typical media getting over-excited. Coudn’t blame the lads from walking out ala Keano though.

  • I know they did take part, DT123 but the ir FAs no longer took it seriously and the FA would no longer play matches in belfast due to the unstable situation. I hear talk of reinstating the one fixture that anyone in britain cared much about, [England v Scotland], and which could be on the way back.

  • Oneill. The only paper printing this claim is the Sunday Lifeless and I don’t give it any credence, for that reason alone. Either Trap will bring them into the squad for all the qualifiers from September, or he’ll be jettisoned himself.

  • Daniel,

    McClean’s mouth works several gears faster than his brain- so whether he meant it or not, I can imagine him saying stupid like that in front of a journalist and not realising the consequences.

    Gibson has had more years via his time at Utd to know exactly the dangers of spouting off to all asundry and his utterances thus seem more calculating.

    Oh well, not to worry;) Prolongs the tournament a bit longer for the underemployed irish sports journos and no doubt the Bellylaugh will have a poll on it tomorrow for us all to vote on.

  • keano 10. The lack of interest in NI public from either side [as you cited], was matched by the established players [who are of mainly unionist persusaion]in September qualifiers as they couldn’t be bothered anymore after Serbia. Worthington got the blame by the fans present, when it was inept school level playing during the last four matches. There ‘s no fight in them any more anyway. .

  • On a related subject, given England’s defeat after the penalty shootout today, does the UK need a single team too?

  • Republic of Connaught

    Joe,

    There won’t be a UK team because the English won’t have it and neither would the Scots. I’m sure the Welsh wouldn’t either. Though in Northern Ireland there would probably be many who would have wet dreams about it.

    As an aside, it’s interesting the British football team for the Olympics pointedly isn’t called team UK, it’s called team GB. Ulster players clearly aren’t from GB. Maybe it’s a none to subtle hint for them to play for the team from their own island.

  • IJP

    The “GB” thing is simply a leftover from when the team was “Great Britain and Ireland”.

    I have to say, watching England’s pedestrian performance tonight and comparing it to the way Catalans, Basques, Castilians and a Canarian came together to put France to the sword without breaking sweat, the notion of a pan-UK team should get a fair airing.

    It won’t, though.

  • salgado

    joe – I spent a decent portion of last saturday with an English friend trying to persuade me of the merits of a UK team (plus the rest of Ireland if they wanted). I remained unconvinced.

    No one really wants such as thing, but if it looked like a possibility I think a lot of English fans would start considering it (the prospect of players like Giggs, Best, Dalglish and, for my Spurs supporting friend, Jennings and the Blanchflowers having played in more tournaments helped).

    It should probably be noted that he also suggested Yugoslavia should reform for football purposes.

  • IJP I thought Gary Lineker’s closing comment on the BBC coverage was pretty sour grapes when he said ‘at least we can’t now lose to the Germans’. It was a poor effort from England, but neither were Italy able to kill it off in normal time..

  • john

    Just back from holiday so a bit late in commenting here. Firstly I just want to point out that Ireland were woeful and Trap has come across as a fool. There is no denying that the Irish players are limited but they looked knackered and in Given and O’sheas case unfit. Big questions over Traps management. Why did he name his squad so early and then bin Foley causing the heartache he was suppose to avoid. Why bother with the whole Euro tour with the trips to Italy and Hungary as it obviously had taken its toll. Trap left many quality players at home and then persevered with a team and system that obviously wasnt working – it was unbelievable not to mention using Green ahead of Gibson or Cox as a winger ahead of Hunt or Mclean very starnge! Big changes required for the next world cup qualifying and quickly or Trap must go. Found it strange some posts boasting about Northern Ireland never being so bad – they must not remember Mexico 86 considering it was only 4 years after the heroics of 82 and essentially a quater final place a tournament that included beating the hosts to then only get 1 point against Algeria was a massive let down!
    Not making excuses but it is Interesting to note that the Republic always seem to get a tough group.
    Euro 88 both Holland and CCCP go onto the final
    Italia 90 England are unlucky to lose in the SF
    US 94 Italy lose the final on penalties
    2002 Germany beaten finalist
    2012 Both Spain and Italy so far in the semis!!
    Final couple of points There will be an all Ireland football team centuries before Yugoslavia is a team again.
    As for team GB they were asked to change the name to the more politically correct team UK but refused because it wasnt as marketable a brand?!

  • Republic of Connaught

    Just reading there about that the conman John Delaney iis getting paid 400k a year from the FAI. I honestly cannot believe that. I read the German FA guy – of a country with 80 million and one of the biggest football countries in the world – was only getting 300,000 euro a year in 2011.

    Delaney should be ashamed of himself.