The state of Irish Football

After the 5-2 drubbing of the Republic of Ireland by Cyprus the team needed to get something out of the game against the Czech Republic. They did, it finished 1-1.

In typical Irish football fan style gone were the calls for resignations to be replaced by the Ole Ole brigade acting like we had actually won something. Such is the fickleness of Irish football fans, a little wallpaper of the gaping cracks and they are all happily on the bandwagon again. Pathetic really but most Irish football fans deserve no better than to see their national team in the sorry state it is now.

In the ‘glory days’ when we actually qualified for championships the team was made up of players who played in the leading teams in the English Premiership. They were the first choice players for their teams. Now the best experienced players on the team are Duff and Robbie Keane. Duff plays regularly for Newcastle, 13th in the English Premiership. Keane irregularly plays for Spurs who are 14th. Big contrast to 16 years ago.

So what happened. Well clearly the Irish players are not good enough to play for the top English Premiership teams anymore. As the English game has gone more global clubs are just as likely to look to south America as Ireland for players.

Why is that a problem? Because the accepted approach to developing football talent in this country is to find the best kids and ship them off at 16 to some English club and hope they do well. That is the fundamental basis of Irish football at a national level. Well that and trying to find some player who granny visited Dublin once which makes them Oirish.

Most of the Ole Ole Brigade don’t see anything wrong with this. But then again they don’t see any issue with following English clubs and spending their money watching English football rather than Irish football, and then complain about Irish football. They will happily jump on the nearest bandwagon that’s passing, a few years ago Manchester United jerseys were all the rage in Dublin, then we had Blackburn for a while, Chelsea jerseys even appeared!  And now just to prove my point we see Sunderland jerseys!

Strangely enough when it comes to the world cup the same people will support anyone except England, even though every weekend they support English teams and not Irish ones. There are several levels of hypocrisy involved here.

The best way to improve the chances of the Irish national team is to develop talent at home. At the moment we have no youth academies, so no wonder any promising young players are sent to England at an early age.

The Irish media is obsessed with the English game giving little or no coverage to the Irish teams. The Football Association of Ireland seems to care little about Irish teams either. And when the government decides to fund a purpose build soccer stadium in an area of Dublin (Tallaght) that could do with any facilities it can get, the GAA (through Thomas Davis GAA club) objects to try to stop it getting built. That issue is to be decided in the High Court in November; if sense prevails the Thomas Davis objection will be dismissed and the ground that is now lying derelict can be completed – the council have the money, the only holdup is Thomas Davis GAA club. Oh and the Irish would much rather sit in a pub with a Sunderland jersey and call themselves football fans rather than going down the road to watch their local team.

Until attitudes change we don’t deserve any better from the National team than we are getting at present.

2 thoughts on “The state of Irish Football”

  1. Ultimately the clubs and the FAI need to sort out the domestic game. We need a better youth structure; we need better facilities. However if the public does not help its domestic game, to the point of ridiculing it, therby hindering native talent, they cannot then complain too loudly about the state of the National team. If we have good talent at schoolboy level we need to develop that. For the forseeable future the best of the bunch will go to the English leagues, thats where the money is. But at least we should be sending kids over more prepared to make it. Improving Irish football will be an iterative process at all levels; the current state is a pretty accurate reflection on the game in this country and the quality of Irish players abroad.

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