Will an all-Ireland soccer team ever happen again?
The Irish Football Association (IFA) was founded in Belfast in 1880. It was the governing body for soccer for the whole of the island of Ireland. Soccer in Ireland was united for over forty years. Then divisions in the sport reached a climax after the First World War, cul
With the internationalisation of the English Premier League, the league most Irish professionals, North and South, have succeeded in, fewer Irish-born players are finding the opportunity to compete at the highest level in the top division in England. This trend looks set to continue for some time, reducing the likelihood of either Irish team maintaining competitiveness at international level. In the latest FIFA rankings Northern Ireland are ranked 37th and the Republic of Ireland are ranked 52nd. In turn, this may convince the administrators North and South to reconsider the option of one team representing the whole island.
John Giles and Eamon Dunphy will launch The Irish Soccer Split by Cormac Moore at the Royal Irish Academy on September 8th. The Irish Soccer Split (ISBN 9781782051527, Hardback, 234 x 156mm 332pp, €25, £19.95).
The fact that the closest soccer has come to union was throughout the Troubles does suggest an agreement can be reached one day. In the build up to the Terry Neill benefit match in 1970, George Best reiterated his call for an all-Ireland international team, claiming he had ‘talked to several players from the South and they all want to see a full Irish team. I know the Northern Ireland players think the same way.’ Perhaps the political climate has changed enough and the fortunes of both the Republic of Ireland and Northern Ireland soccer teams might compel the FAI and IFA to reconvene and once again realise an international soccer team for the whole island as there was before.
The Irish Football Association (IFA) was founded in Belfast in 1880. It was the governing body for soccer for the whole of the island of Ireland. Soccer in Ireland was united for over forty years. Then divisions in the sport reached a climax after the First World War, culminating in the split of 1921 when Leinster seceded from the IFA and formed the Football Association of Ireland (FAI).