“An all-Ireland soccer team just like we have in rugby.”
A Fianna Fail senator has said Ireland is too small for two football teams and wants to see an all-island side made up of players from the Republic of Ireland and Northern Ireland.
Senator Robbie Gallagher was speaking in the aftermath of Ireland’s 1-0 home defeat to Luxembourg – a team ranked 98th in the world – leaving them bottom of Group A after two games.
Mr Gallagher said that the 1-0 defeat suffered by Stephen Kenny’s side was a “hugely, hugely disappointing result” and – with Northern Ireland also struggling – the time has come to start discussions on having an all-island side.
“I looked across the Border and our friends in Northern Ireland’s soccer team are on a similar run, where they can’t seem to buy a win either,” Gallagher told the Seanad.
“Now is the time for us to have a debate in this country about having an all-Ireland soccer team just like we have in rugby and we have in hockey.”
“The reality is that for two small nations – like Northern Ireland and the Republic – to have two soccer teams on a small island, one island and expect them to compete at international level is simply not on anymore”.
Irish rugby team comparison.
Gallagher then made the comparison to the Irish rugby team, where players can be selected from the island of Ireland.
He believes that Ireland’s Six Nations win against England demonstrates what can be done if an all-island approach is taken.
“Our rugby team beat England less than a week ago, the same rugby team went on to compete in the world cup final not so long ago,” Gallagher continued.
Mr Gallagher wants Minister of State for Sport Jack Chambers to “come into this House to see how we can start this conversation” with the North.
“Northern Ireland and indeed the Republic have had some good days in the past,” Gallagher added.
The Senator watched the Finding Jack Charlton documentary on Virgin Media on Sunday night and was reminded of the “glory days”.
“I saw the scenes of the glory days, when we had success in this country,” Gallagher noted.
“And indeed Northern Ireland have had their day in the sun too but not as often as we would like.”