Friday, October 14, 2005


All-Ireland football team needed

I think Irish football is in a very bad way right now. I was watching Sky News Ireland yesterday and they were discussing the future of the Republic of Ireland team (or as willow calls it, 'Ireland') and Ronnie Whelan stated that he was worried for the future of Irish football as there don't seem to be enough quality players coming through. He also mentioned the team who represent Ireland's north and as we all know, they are seriously bereft of quality! (And a number of other things which I won't go into)

I agree with Ronnie Whelan's assessment. The situation then is thus:

- We have a below-average team in 'Northern Ireland' who lack a number of quality players to make a serious impact on the world stage.

- We have an average Ireland team who contain some quality players, but lack the quality in depth to maintain a serious challenge in getting to major tournaments.

- We have an organisation in the IFA who claim they want to have a team that northern nationalists can identify with.

- We have an organisation in the FAI who are detested by most Irish football fans for their shocking incompetence and amateur outlook on the game.

It would seem to me, from weighing up the situation noted above, that the best solution to safeguard the future of Irish football on this island, is to push for an all-Ireland rugby team such as the one we have for Rugby run by one organisation, preferably the IFA.

The population of this island is just too damn small to continue with two teams. One average team and one poor team, when together, could be good if not great.

Football legend George Best earlier this year called on the football authorities to set-up an all-Ireland team and I think it's high time we did just that. Would Irish rugby be as successful if there were two Irish teams on the island? I do not think so.

Divided we are decent, but united we could be strong. Issues over anthems and emblems could be resolved just like it was for the rugby team.

Some may wish to let emotions get involved and dismiss this idea outright without a second thought but let's just acknowledge something. Next year, in Germany, this island will be unrepresented. How many more tournaments must the people of this island watch from the sidelines?

Isn't it worth a shot at pooling all our resources together? People can talk all they want about what divides the people of this island north and south but there's some things which are common characteristics for all of us. Passion. Heart. Desire. Patriotism.

Why must we let the arena of politics harm our chances in the arena of sport?

The unified German football team will kick-off the World Cup next year. Meanwhile, representatives from the divided Irish teams will have to watch from at home. Let's change that sorry situation.


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