THE HALF DECENT FOOTBALL MAGAZINE

23 June ~ Nigel Worthington’s tenure as Northern Ireland manager has been a struggle from the outset. When he took over after Lawrie Sanchez's departure for Fulham, the team was ranked 27th in the world and topped a Euro 2008 qualifying group that contained Spain, Sweden and Denmark. Away defeats to Latvia and Iceland in Worthington’s first two games derailed the qualification bid while a recent run of indifferent results and turgid performances has seen the country’s FIFA ranking slump to 65th.

Worthington risked further alienating his disgruntled fan base this week by revealing that he is in talks with Leeds United’s Alex Bruce about switching his international allegiance to Northern Ireland. Bruce – the son of Sunderland manager Steve – qualifies for both the North and South through his grandparents and was approached by both countries’ Under-21s in 2006.

At the time, he said: “I'm very flattered that Northern Ireland and the Republic are both showing an interest in me. But I think I'm going to pick the Republic purely because I think they are a better team.” He has since made two senior international appearances and captained a Republic of Ireland B team but has not featured under Giovanni Trapattoni.

A FIFA ruling means that players who have represented either the North or South of Ireland can switch their allegiance until they make an appearance in a competitive match. In recent years, players born north of the border such as Darron Gibson, Marc Wilson and Shane Duffy have all appeared for the Republic having previously represented Northern Ireland at junior levels.
Shane Ferguson, the promising Newcastle player, ignored a call-up to the last Northern Ireland squad amid reports that he intends to answer the advances of the FAI despite having already made his senior international debut in Northern Ireland’s friendly against Italy in 2009.

The ruling is hugely unpopular among Northern Ireland fans with many boycotting the recent Carling Nations Cup fixture between the two countries in the hope of raising awareness of the situation. The few in attendance unfurled a banner reading: “FAI leave our players alone…you can keep Darron Gibson.” They fear that the ruling is being abused, allowing talented youngsters developed by the IFA to represent the Republic at senior level while the North are left with cast-offs such as Bruce who are unable to break into FAI set-up.

At a time when many are calling for action, the potential call-up for Bruce has been interpreted as an acceptance of a situation that had previously been condemned publicly. Speaking in May, Worthington said: “It's frustrating and disappointing that a lot of time, energy, commitment and finance goes into these players over a period of years and then when they are 17, 18, 19 or even 20, there is the opportunity for them, because of the ruling, to vacate to another country.”

Attempts to rid Northern Irish football of its sectarian element were undermined by a disgraceful minority during February’s friendly against Scotland. However, as the popularity among the Windsor Park crowd for Celtic’s Paddy McCourt and Niall McGinn shows, the majority wish to leave the legacy of the troubles behind and move forward with a national team that represents both sides of the community.

And while record goalscorer David Healy acknowledges the religious aspect to the ruling, he argues that those who switch allegiance are doing a disservice to those who have overseen their development. Speaking last week he said: “I know people have different identities and so on in Northern Ireland but that has always been the way. They shouldn’t just come in, play through the underage levels or in one or two senior friendlies and then decide that’s it. They shouldn’t use it as a convenient means of improving their CV at that particular time.”

Just over 25 years ago, Northern Ireland played Brazil at Mexico 86 with the 3-0 defeat marking the team’s last appearance at a major finals. Neither that drought nor the row between the associations seem set for a swift conclusion but for an unpopular manager who is nearing the end of his contract, at least appearing to make a stand should be imperative. Jonathan Bradley

Comments (24)
Comment by t.j.vickerman 2011-06-23 10:48:09

Perhaps Laurent Blanc knows a way to solve this...

Comment by t.j.vickerman 2011-06-23 10:51:28

Interesting read. I wonder if you could clarify one point for me.

Are all players eligible for one team also eligible for the other? For example, surely a player born in Belfast with all his family (up to grandparents) considered Northern Irish wouldn't be eligible for the Republic, would he?

Comment by Duncan Gardner 2011-06-23 12:48:07

“I'm very flattered that Northern Ireland and the Republic are both showing an interest in me. But I think I'm going to pick the Republic purely because I think they are a better team” (Alex Bruce)

Fine, you fcuked off from England, then turned down NI. Bye bye. Stick with the South, if you aren't good nough for their first team, tough.

"They shouldn’t just come in, play through the underage levels or in one or two senior friendlies and then decide that’s it. They shouldn’t use it as a convenient means of improving their CV at that particular time” (David Healy)

It would have been better had he said 'they shouldn't play for one country then bugger off to another'

"for an unpopular manager [Dick Fuckwhittington] who is nearing the end of his contract, at least appearing to make a stand should be imperative"

The stand he is making (that just because they grew up in NI they shouldn't play for the South) makes no sense. It's both vindictive (why shouldn't someone who's identified with the RoI, and supported it since childhood) aspire to play? And of course contradicting and hypocritical, given the number of English players in NI's senior and youth sides.

If he addresses this issue at all, it would be better to try to persuade the FAI not to choose players who've already turned out for NI's adult teams. But his top priority should be getting our existing players to take games, particularly friendlies, seriously.

"Are all players eligible for one team also eligible for the other? For example, surely a player born in Belfast with all his family (up to grandparents) considered Northern Irish wouldn't be eligible for the Republic, would he?" (TJ Vickerman)

No, to play for NI you have to qualify through birth, residence, or (grand)parentage. To qualify for the RoI, you need merely be from anywhere in Ireland (or have (grand) parent thus), or alternatively through residence.

This came up on here during Euo 08, when a RoI fan sulked about Spain having a Brazilian 'ringer' (Marcos Senna). It was pointed out that he'd lived longer in Spain than all the Englishmen and Scots in the RoI's squad combined in the latter country.

Comment by SwanVsDalton 2011-06-23 12:58:40

@ t.j. vickerman

Yes, anyone born in Northern Ireland is eligible for the Republic as they are automatically dual nationals and can choose to express their single Irish nationality and declare for the ROI (notwithstanding actual footballing ability).

If anyone has an interest in the eligibility issue it is imperative they read this extensive and absolutely bang-on blog post which dispels the oft-reapeated myths around the issue: http://playereligibilityinireland.blogspot.com/

To Jonathan Bradley:

- You refer to a FIFA ruling and then go on to refer to Darron Gibson, Marc Wilson and Shane Duffy. I presume the ruling you refer to is from 2009 when FIFA congress voted to scrap the age limit of 21 after which players could not change allegiance. For the sake of clarity Darron Gibson switched to ROI much earlier than that. Moreover it's highly debatable whether the ruling would have affected anyone else since Wilson and Duffy (and possibly Ferguson joining them) declared well before they were 21. Referring to this 'ruling' infers some kind of unfair situation that has only recently arose, when this certainly isn't case. FIFA eligibility rules regarding Ireland have been clear and consistently enforced for decades.

- I presume the general thrust of this article is to skewer the hypocrisy of Worthington for betraying his repeated views on eligibility only to court Alex Bruce. Fair enough. But surely you should go further. Citing David Healy's words without pointing out how eligibility rules have consistently benefitted NI is a little odd. Moreover your entire argument regarding NI/ROI eligibility makes no mention of the fact that when the two teams recently met there was only one player on the field who had moved from one association to another - that was NI international Johnny Gorman, who turned out at underage level for the ROI.

- Finally what stand would you suggest Worthington take? You seem to concede the complex, ongoing nature of the eligibility row but I'd go further again - the row's over. There is no stand to take possibly aside from grumbling half-heartedly in the media (but that would be hypocritical given NI being beneficiaries of the rules). FIFA rules are being applied fairly, and even when the IFA took a ridiculous punt on challenging them, CAS knocked them back definitively. Would you promote Worthington continuing to protest against long-standing FIFA eligibility statues?

Comment by SwanVsDalton 2011-06-23 13:00:48

FIFA statues? I'm not referring to FIFA's Executive Members here, that's actually supposed to say statutes...

Comment by alter ego 2011-06-23 14:15:32

@SwanVsDalton

Your example of Johnny Gorman is misleading. He played for Northern Ireland U16, 17, 18, 19, 20 and 21 teams before playing for the full international team. He was developed for the most part by the Northern Irish set-up, so doesn't tally with the IFA's concerns over spending money on developing players to have them declare for the Republic.

Due to the Republic's claim over all players born on the island, anyone born in Northern Ireland can be lost at any stage of their development. Players born in Northern Ireland can be invested in throughout their youth careers and even play friendly games with the full international team, only to then choose to play for the Republic. You must admit, for a nation as small as Northern Ireland, this is a legitimate concern. And the situation does not work both ways - Northern Ireland have no right to call up players both in the south.

If players like Gibson relate to the notion of Irishness as opposed to Northern Irishness, they should be able to play for the Republic. But allowing players to choose which team to represent after having gone as far as playing international friendlies for another country doesn't seem right to me.

By the way, Jonny Evans has an intriguing take on the Darron Gibson situation:

"I honestly believe Darron would be a Northern Ireland player today but for the IFA. I have spoken with him on many occasions about the issue and he always says it was Northern Ireland that left him with no choice. It's been written that Darron based his decision on religion and politics but that's rubbish. I know the guy and he's not like that. He just wants to play football at the highest level and the FAI made him feel welcome. Anyway, I think it's too far gone now for him to make a return. Hopefully, in the future, there will be less players switching from Northern Ireland."

Comment by SwanVsDalton 2011-06-23 15:36:39

@alter ego

It's not misleading at all. Johnny Gorman played for ROI at U-16 level before switching allegiances. It's certainly not as misleading as the oft-hysterical reporting of eligibility which suggests the FAI are causing an NI footballing talent drain which could destroy the team.

Meanwhile the financial element in developing international footballers is a red herring. The IFA are partially funded by NI tax payers (including those who do not identify with the Northern Ireland football team) and players voluntarily return any expense by playing for them at that point. NI doesn't own these players simply because they threw on a training session in Windsor Park. The same as any association doesn't own a player after they play underage football, whether it be NI, ROI, England, France or whoever. The IFA may be in more difficult situation than other associations but they're hardly exceptional. And I'd certainly concede it's a legitimate concern, although any goodwill or sympathy on the issue is pretty much obliterated by the IFA's continual ignorance on the application of FIFA eligibility rules.

The full international issue is a slightly different one granted, and I'm not all that easy with players switching post full-cap. But the IFA would be free to lobby on that issue if they wanted. I would absolutely resist any call to change the underage rules however.

Never saw the Evans quote, quite interesting to be fair. I would be more than a little surprised if that's entirely true though (might be a case of Gibson being a little diplomatic/disingenuous to a teammate). Gibson was very determined to switch even when faced with some pretty serious animosity in the media and from NI fans. His attitude towards playing for the ROI was consistently proactive and tallies with someone who always wanted to do so.

As he said himself: “It was unbelievable, you know, making the debut for your country. Everyone from Derry wants to play for Ireland. I grew up supporting Ireland, so it was a natural choice for me.”

Comment by Duncan Gardner 2011-06-23 16:11:57

"It's not misleading at all...It's certainly not as misleading as the oft-hysterical reporting of eligibility which suggests the FAI are causing an NI footballing talent drain which could destroy the team"

So it's just a little misleading then?

The FAI choosing adult NI internationals certainly unsettles our teams. It obviously makes it difficult to plen ahead if you don't know who's going to, effectively, retire prematurely aged 18 or 19.

"although any goodwill or sympathy on the issue is pretty much obliterated by the IFA's continual ignorance"

Surely ignorance is a good reason for both goodwill and sympathy? Be honest, any of either has been limited for a long time: a very large proportion of your support would be happy to see the NI side disappear, and enthuse about it constantly on web boards, phone-ins and even the mainstream media.

"But the IFA would be free to lobby on that issue if they wanted. I would absolutely resist any call to change the underage rules however"

Excellent, we have the basis of a compromise. How about, not selecting anyone who's already played for another country's U-19, U-21 or full sides after their 18th birthday?

"I would be more than a little surprised if that's entirely true though (might be a case of Gibson being a little diplomatic/disingenuous to a teammate)"

Evans is the one being 'diplomatic'. He's backing his mate and hitting the IFA whose frequent fcuk-ups make them an easy target. In practice, Gibson turned down a NI representative youth game to attend a Man U trial, so they didn't pick him for the next one. Similar situation to McGeadski in Scotland.

"Everyone from Derry wants to play for [Republic of] Ireland"

The Derry NISC begs to differ...

Comment by SwanVsDalton 2011-06-23 16:57:53

"So it's just a little misleading then?"

OK for the record - nope, it isn't misleading.

"The FAI choosing adult NI internationals certainly unsettles our teams. It obviously makes it difficult to plen ahead if you don't know who's going to, effectively, retire prematurely aged 18 or 19."

Hardly a unique situation in international football. The FAI are selecting Irish qualified players who want to play for them, perfectly legitimately and within the rules. As for planning ahead, bit OTT no? I'm sure NI are developing plenty of players who do actually want to play for them.

"Surely ignorance is a good reason for both goodwill and sympathy?"

How's that? The rules are clear, have been applied consistently for decades, yet the IFA still saw fit to take an utterly ridiculous case to CAS challenging them. At best they deserve ridicule - at worst they deserve anger for their perceived attempt to prevent the right of NI people to implement their Irish nationality.

"Be honest, any of either has been limited for a long time: a very large proportion of your support would be happy to see the NI side disappear, and enthuse about it constantly on web boards, phone-ins and even the mainstream media."

Stop the presses - football fans are idiots shock. Surely we should all expect national football associations to act more reasonably than the kind of barstooling, keyboard warrior gombeens who write in newspapers, anonymously on forums or call up phone's in. Ridiculous whataboutery to even compare the two.

But, while we're comparing, that was not only a sweeping generalisation (would be interesting if I said it was a 'large proportion' of NI fans who rampaged around Ballsbridge after the recent Carling Nations Cup) but also totally wide of the mark. ROI fans (that's the proper support BTW, not the mouth-foaming minority eejits you refer to) are either slightly sympathetic or largely bemused by the IFA and NI fans seeming inability to understand the eligibility issue. The cheekier ROI fan might even suggest their attitude stems from sheer minnowism, but that's probably for another debate...;)

"Excellent, we have the basis of a compromise. How about, not selecting anyone who's already played for another country's U-19, U-21 or full sides after their 18th birthday?"

I did say underage which, to me, would prevent any alteration to rules on U-19's or U-21's. Between the IFA's proximity and the limited world view of young people, it's only fair NI players get full opportunity to exercise their right to identify for either Irish side. But in terms of full internationals, there might be a compromise there - although I'd say the North African/Francophone nations who petitioned for the FIFA rule change in the first place may have something to say about it...

"Evans is the one being 'diplomatic'. He's backing his mate and hitting the IFA whose frequent fcuk-ups make them an easy target. In practice, Gibson turned down a NI representative youth game to attend a Man U trial, so they didn't pick him for the next one. Similar situation to McGeadski in Scotland."

Don't know much about that, but I've met Gibson and I'll take his word on it when he says he wants to play for the ROI. Hardly unrealistic for someone from Derry. Speaking of...

"The Derry NISC begs to differ..."

Good for them. Glad they're getting fully behind the Not Brazil Bunch. It's be very much a minority in the city, but best of luck anyway.





Comment by Duncan Gardner 2011-06-23 18:08:48

"Hardly a unique situation in international football"

Tsk. Yes, it's not unique for youth footballers, even internationals at that level, to fail to progress in the game. But it is pretty unusual in the wider World for them to stop playing under-age internationals for one country, then declare for another.

"the IFA still saw fit to take an utterly ridiculous case to CAS challenging them. At best they deserve ridicule - at worst they deserve anger"

Agreed on the ridicule. My point was the anger's exaggerated for effect.

"Ridiculous whataboutery to even compare the two"

Not really: the two issues, although separate are obviously related. Large proportion of our fans are trying to intimidate guys wanting to play for the South; large proportion of yours want to abolish/ merge/ takeover the NI team- which can clearly be more easily justified if pretty much every player from NI is eligible for the RoI side, even with numerous underage and friendly caps.

"that was not only a sweeping generalisation (would be interesting if I said it was a 'large proportion' of NI fans who rampaged around Ballsbridge after the recent Carling Nations Cup)"

Actually, it wasn't. It's backed by numerous and repeated anecdotal evidence in the forums and phone-ins you ridicule. Note that I suggested a large proportion, without implying it was close to 100%.

I can't comment on what proportion of fuck all misbehaved down Bath Road as I boyc...er, decided to go and watch a game in Belgium instead. Counter-whataboutery alert.

"ROI fans (that's the proper support BTW, not the mouth-foaming minority eejits you refer to)"

Naughty. Almost all of those expressing that opinion on foot.ie, ybig.ie etc. are otherwise quite reasonable, and certainly aren't dismissed as mouth-foaming by others who disagree. Put simply, they see their view as mainstream, and they don't tend to have that challenged by most other RoI fans.

"But in terms of full internationals, there might be a compromise there - although I'd say the North African/Francophone nations who petitioned for the FIFA rule change in the first place may have something to say about it..."

As I've said here and on other boards, it's probably more likely that FIFA will relax the rules further, if anything. So that, for example, the North African guy could turn out for Algeria even if he'd already played for their U-19 before getting a single French cap in a friendly, or whatever. (I assume that isn't possible at the moment, apologies if it is. I'm reading through Danny Collins's article which is very comprehensive, as you say).

Compromise is more plausible between the IFA and FAI alone, without referring to FIFA. Although obviously it wouldn't have any greater status than a 'gentleman's agreement', if I'm allowed to mention that old chestnut?

"Don't know much about that, but I've met Gibson and I'll take his word on it when he says he wants to play for the ROI"

I don't doubt that, I'm sure he's delighted to play for the RoI when fit. My point was that he turned down a NI youth game essentially because he preferred to play for Man U.

"It's be very much a minority in the city, but best of luck anyway"

Ta. I'm sure you wouldn't expect NI fans to not be NI fans, or to stop, just because most people in their home city support elsewhere. You've probably seen the Derry City banner at our away games on TV, for example.

Comment by SwanVsDalton 2011-06-23 18:42:49

I'm not going to to and fro on this overly since I think most of what needs to be said, has been said.

However:

"Actually, it wasn't. It's backed by numerous and repeated anecdotal evidence in the forums and phone-ins you ridicule. Note that I suggested a large proportion, without implying it was close to 100%."

"Naughty. Almost all of those expressing that opinion on foot.ie, ybig.ie etc. are otherwise quite reasonable, and certainly aren't dismissed as mouth-foaming by others who disagree. Put simply, they see their view as mainstream, and they don't tend to have that challenged by most other RoI fans."

I presume you're referring to those supporting an All-Ireland team then. This wasn't clear from your initial posting, which sounded far more aggressive than people merely suggesting they'd like one team ala rugby.

The views posted in support of this on foot.ie (where I strongly suspect you regularly post!), ybig.ie etc tend to be fairly mild, with people largely suggesting that an All-Ireland team would be their preference. For these people, it's not so much a case of seeking the destruction of the NI team so much as seeking a better, more united football team for all. Call it what you will (naive? delusional? simplistic?) but it's hardly as aggressive as you suggest.

Regardless you're right to suggest a corollary of this would be the destruction of the NI team, but you're avoiding the fact it would also result in the destruction of the ROI team as well, since the reformed All-Ireland side would be entirely new. I'm sure you'll argue about the expectations of an All-Ireland side (expected to play in Dublin, Irish national anthem etc) but I'm not getting into that - if an All-Ireland side ever did happen, it's hardly worth speculating on what terms. What we do know is that both teams would be finished, not just NI.

Meanwhile there are a fervent minority (that's just a few) who would be more aggressive on their views on the NI team. They're more the kind I was referring to in the above posts.

Either way I think you're well overstating the kind of support the All-Ireland view has (a view which has support in NI fandom too, I'm anecdotally sure). It's not something I, or most ROI fans I know, support.

Comment by Outside Agent 2011-06-24 00:00:36

DG - You were doing well until you referred to foot.ie & ybig as stations of reasonable opinion. It's no wonder you think the majority of the nation screamed stitch-up and conspiracy when a hand-ball went unnoticed. But I'm sure you get the response you're looking for there.

I'm quite sympathetic to the IFA's position, it's just unfortunate that they can do nothing about it. They invest in underage structures and the players they produce can switch allegiance at will. It's a legal anomaly they just have to live with, but I don't blame them for kicking up about it.

Comment by madmickyf 2011-06-24 05:17:51

Would the best way to solve this issue be to have one team representing the whole of Ireland like they do in cricket and rugby?

Comment by Duncan Gardner 2011-06-24 07:19:37

"it's not so much a case of seeking the destruction of the NI team so much as seeking a better, more united football team for all. Call it what you will (naive? delusional? simplistic?) but it's hardly as aggressive as you suggest"

It could hardly be more aggressive, thus I respond in kind. It would mean, quite obviously and starkly, the end of the football team I support. All of whose fans are, equally obviously, opposed to the idea. It's also vindictive, given that there's already a united Ireland team bulked out by English and Scottish players for RoI fans to support.

"I'm sure you'll argue about the expectations of an All-Ireland side (expected to play in Dublin, Irish national anthem etc) but I'm not getting into that - if an All-Ireland side ever did happen, it's hardly worth speculating on what terms. What we do know is that both teams would be finished, not just NI"

Got it in one, I'll argue. It's certainly worth speculating even if the terms are drearily predictable: no NI side, and a united Ireland side continuing largely as before. In the way I described at length here and on the other boards you mention.

"you're well overstating the kind of support the All-Ireland view has (a view which has support in NI fandom too, I'm anecdotally sure)"

I'm equally sure that no NI fan would want the NI side to seek to exist. There is no support for it whatever among our fans.

"It's no wonder you think the majority of the nation screamed stitch-up and conspiracy when a hand-ball went unnoticed"

I don't think I quite claimed that- rather that an impressive range of opinion did (including, inter alia, the minister for foreign affairs, the leading tax charitable pop vocalist, the head of the FAI and many of the most prolific RoI supporting fans on this board).

Mad Micky- no. Go away and stop trolling.

Comment by SwanVsDalton 2011-06-24 10:22:31

@Gather_Roun...I mean Duncan Gardner

Look, just so I have this straight.

You're speculating about a hypothetical All-Ireland team and melodramatically asserting a 'large proportion' of ROI fans would seek the aggressive destruction of the NI team based solely on anecdotal evidence gathered from a hypothetical question asked on a message board, which mostly attracted 'aggressive' responses along the lines of 'sure', 'why not', and 'that's a good idea'. Run for the hills GAWA, the Ole Ole Ole brigade are out to get you....

Meanwhile you've dismissed my almost identical anecdotal evidence about NI fans out of hand (why? think I don't know any NI fans?) even though it's equally valid (or invalid) as yours.

Finally you're making assumptions about the concept and application of an All-Ireland team in order to back-up your initial argument (about those hordes of rabid ROI fans) even though idle speculation about a possible All-Ireland team is pretty much pointless.

OK, grand, just making sure I understand where the hysteria is coming from...

Just for a bit of final craic though, I'll join you in the pointless All-Ireland team speculation - what is more likely? That an All-Ireland team would be essentially an 'Ireland' team based in Dublin, with all the insignia, regalia and history of the current ROI team? Or that it is a side based on compromise, a new entity formed from the dissolution of the two current Ireland teams, which plays games in Belfast and Dublin, under a neutral flag and anthem?

Either way (and I've said this before) it's not something I, or most ROI fans I know, would support. But hey, it's not like that matters what with all the completely representative internetz msg board evidence floating around...

Comment by Outside Agent 2011-06-24 12:32:45

DG - The most prolific posters on this board all agreed that the main reason for Ireland's elimination was our failure to take the numerous chances we created. And they all agreed that the hysteria that followed was nothing other than embarrasing. The only stitch-up was the decision to seed the play-offs, and this was expressed before the games took place, and not just by the Irish.

Yet again, you're choosing to take the rantings of the tabloid media, attention-seeking politicians and the downright idiotic to represent Irish opinion.

Comment by Duncan Gardner 2011-06-25 08:01:53

"You're speculating about a hypothetical All-Ireland team and melodramatically asserting a 'large proportion' of ROI fans would seek the aggressive destruction of the NI team based solely on anecdotal evidence gathered from a hypothetical question asked on a message board, which mostly attracted 'aggressive' responses along the lines of 'sure', 'why not', and 'that's a good idea"

Your fellow RoI fans are doing the speculating, Swanny. Yes, only on incessant internet threads, BBC NI phone ins and Belfast Telegraph polls, rather than in a general election, constitutional amendment or whatever other medium you think would offer a more representative summary of opinion. Look, if they want to demonstrate their shit-stirringness or dumbness in public, that's fine. It's a free country (or rather two). But if they do that by calling for my football team to be abolished, they'll be answered. It's hardly melodramatic. Read the threads on AFC Wimbledon on this board for some context.

"Meanwhile you've dismissed my almost identical anecdotal evidence about NI fans out of hand (why? think I don't know any NI fans?) even though it's equally valid (or invalid) as yours"

I haven't dismissed anything. Link me to any NI fans saying let's not have a distinct NI team and I'll answer it.

"Finally you're making assumptions about the concept and application of an All-Ireland team in order to back-up your initial argument (about those hordes of rabid ROI fans) even though idle speculation about a possible All-Ireland team is pretty much pointless"

I don't think it's pointless- there's a threat, however unrealistic, rabid, idotic, or not quite as polished on the internet as Swanny Dalton it is. If you think its pointless, fine, stop going on about it.

"OK, grand, just making sure I understand where the hysteria is coming from..."

Who's hysterical? You're the one obsessively touring around the web dismissing numerous of your fellow RoI fans as half-witted. It's pretty arrogant and all.

"Just for a bit of final craic though, I'll join you in the pointless All-Ireland team speculation...either way (and I've said this before) it's not something I, or most ROI fans I know, would support. But hey, it's not like that matters what with all the completely representative internet msg board evidence floating around..."

I don't want you to join me in speculation- I'd prefer your fellow RoI fans would shut it and stop the speculation. Your moaning about your mates' anecdotal opinion being ignored is a red herring- I didn't suggest ALL your fans, or even imply more than 50%, were of the same opinion.

"The most prolific posters on this board all agreed that the main reason for Ireland's elimination was our failure to take the numerous chances we created"

Two of the most prolific RoI supporting posters here announced before the 2009 play-offs that FIFA would ensure France's progress, likely due to a crass refereeing error. Another reported in from Dublin after the Paris game that he expected the French Embassy to be attacked. I'm not suggesting all your fans are like that, naturally. But it's a prominent strand of opinion on here, and mirrored in other media.

Comment by Diable Rouge 2011-06-25 09:22:34

No-one was saying the NI team should be abolished immediately - the thread was in response to a hypothetical situation, presumably the groundwork having been agreed on both sides of the border, similar to the Derek Dougan initiative of the '70's. As for any accusations of rabidness, almost all were agreed it would make little difference to qualification, but that like the rugby team, it might be better for both communities to have a common team.

Comment by Duncan Gardner 2011-06-25 09:39:27

Big deal. We don't want the NI team to be abolished at all; there's no likelihood of agreement for that to happen.

Derek Dougan organised a testimonial game.

You want to watch all Ireland egg- chasing, fine. How exactly does that benefit the NI supporting football community?

Comment by SwanVsDalton 2011-06-25 13:15:39

DG

"But if they do that by calling for my football team to be abolished, they'll be answered. It's hardly melodramatic. Read the threads on AFC Wimbledon on this board for some context."

Very few ROI fans have called for the NI team to be abolished.

"If you think its pointless, fine, stop going on about it."

You are the one who completely unfairly suggested a 'large proportion' of ROI fans seek the destruction of the NI team. I refuted it. Fair enough considering how you've utterly misrepresented me and my fellow fans. And you want to have a moan about me going on about? Cripes...

"Who's hysterical? You're the one obsessively touring around the web dismissing numerous of your fellow RoI fans as half-witted. It's pretty arrogant and all."

Obsessively? One thread under an article I have a particular interest in is hardly obsessive. Don't be such a WUM. You've made some pretty outrageous and baseless assertions about ROI fans and I've merely pointed out the blatant misrepresentation of me and my fellow fans. And 'dismissing them as half-witted', where did I do that? Up thread I was clearly referring to a different strand of fans from those who casually advocate an All-Ireland team. I already explained that. Again - don't be such a WUM.

"I don't want you to join me in speculation- I'd prefer your fellow RoI fans would shut it and stop the speculation."

The only 'speculation' you've referred to is internet message board threads. If you don't like em, I suggest you don't read em. There's no way people are going to stop debating issues or hypothesizing - tis the internet. The way you're banging on you'd think there was a large scale campaign/boycott against the IFA (sound familiar?) amongst ROI fans. But, hey, be paranoid and hysterical if you want. But taking these threads as a serious representation of a 'large proportion' of ROI fans is just total nonsense.

"Your moaning about your mates' anecdotal opinion being ignored is a red herring- I didn't suggest ALL your fans, or even imply more than 50%, were of the same opinion."

Naughty, as you'd likely say. You said a large proportion. Earlier you said were not 'implying it was close to 100%'. That certainly implies it was above 50%. Either way it's still a misrepresentation. Maybe you'd like to be more specific next time? Was it 20 people on the internet, two on the radio and a newspaper columnist who advocated an All-Ireland team?

Because the way you've continually banged on it sounds like thousands of ROI fans, a huge swathe of the media and casual football fans across the ROI (and ROI fans in NI) would seek 'to abolish/ merge/ takeover the NI team'. It's horrendously melodramatic, and inaccurate, as nearly all the people who advocated an All-Ireland team merely thought it was a good idea for both communities (and many were further aware it would result in the destruction of BOTH teams).

So for the last time - to say a 'large proportion' of ROI fans aggressively seek to 'abolish/merge/takeover the NI team' is flat out wrong yet you've repeatedly asserted it.

To me only a few (a tiny, tiny proportion) have responded to the issue, for or against, aggressively. And you're one of them.

Comment by Duncan Gardner 2011-06-26 13:54:25

I read in OWC that next Sunday's Mirror will carry results of the 'poll' mentioned on various supporter sites.

Hoping to be proved wrong...

Comment by madmickyf 2011-06-27 02:57:57

Duncan Gardner, I find your comment that I'm trolling offensive. But not as offensive as the rest of your small-minded zealotry, you're still fighting a war that started in 1690!

Comment by Duncan Gardner 2011-06-27 09:42:23

Feel free to be offended, Micky.

Comment by Bill The Greek 2011-07-04 20:20:39

Surely it's the constant uninformed paranoia on this issue which is by far the most offensive issue?

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