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Majority in Northern Ireland want all-Ireland football team, survey suggests

By Rebecca Black

Published 03/12/2015

Northern Ireland manager Michael O'Neill is lifted into the air by his players after the UEFA European Championship Qualifying match at Windsor Park, Belfast. PRESS ASSOCIATION Photo. Picture date: Thursday October 8, 2015. See PA story SOCCER N Ireland. Photo credit should read: Liam McBurney/PA Wire.
Northern Ireland manager Michael O'Neill is lifted into the air by his players after the UEFA European Championship Qualifying match at Windsor Park, Belfast. PRESS ASSOCIATION Photo. Picture date: Thursday October 8, 2015. See PA story SOCCER N Ireland. Photo credit should read: Liam McBurney/PA Wire.
Northern Ireland Manager celebrates with his players after Thursday evening's game at Windsor park in Belfast. Photo Colm Lenaghan/Pacemaker Press
Northern Ireland's manager Micheal O'Neill (C) celebrates with Northern Ireland's Josh Magennis (L) and Gareth McAuley (R) after winning the UEFA Euro 2016 qualifying Group F football match between Northern Ireland and Greece at Windsor Park in Belfast, Northern Ireland, on October 8, 2015. AFP PHOTO / PAUL FAITHPAUL FAITH/AFP/Getty Images
Northern Ireland fans celebrate after Northern Ireland won the UEFA Euro 2016 qualifying Group F football match between Northern Ireland and Greece at Windsor Park in Belfast, Northern Ireland, on October 8, 2015. AFP PHOTO / PAUL FAITHPAUL FAITH/AFP/Getty Images
Northern Ireland fans celebrate after Northern Ireland won the UEFA Euro 2016 qualifying Group F football match between Northern Ireland and Greece at Windsor Park in Belfast, Northern Ireland, on October 8, 2015. AFP PHOTO / PAUL FAITHPAUL FAITH/AFP/Getty Images
Northern Ireland fans celebrate after Northern Ireland won the UEFA Euro 2016 qualifying Group F football match between Northern Ireland and Greece at Windsor Park in Belfast, Northern Ireland, on October 8, 2015. AFP PHOTO / PAUL FAITHPAUL FAITH/AFP/Getty Images
Northern Ireland's Josh Magennis celebrates after winning the UEFA Euro 2016 qualifying Group F football match between Northern Ireland and Greece at Windsor Park in Belfast, Northern Ireland, on October 8, 2015. AFP PHOTO / PAUL FAITHPAUL FAITH/AFP/Getty Images
Northern Ireland's Josh Magennis celebrates after winning the UEFA Euro 2016 qualifying Group F football match between Northern Ireland and Greece at Windsor Park in Belfast, Northern Ireland, on October 8, 2015. AFP PHOTO / PAUL FAITHPAUL FAITH/AFP/Getty Images
BELFAST, NORTHERN IRELAND - OCTOBER 8: Gareth McAuley of Northern Ireland celebrates after this evenings Euro 2016 Group F international football match at Windsor Park on October 8, 2015 in Belfast, Northern Ireland. (Photo by Charles McQuillan/Getty Images)
BELFAST, NORTHERN IRELAND - OCTOBER 8: Gareth McAuley of Northern Ireland celebrates after this evenings Euro 2016 Group F international football match at Windsor Park on October 8, 2015 in Belfast, Northern Ireland. (Photo by Charles McQuillan/Getty Images)
Northern Ireland's Steven Davis celebrates after scoring his side's third goal of the game during the UEFA European Championship Qualifying match at Windsor Park, Belfast. PRESS ASSOCIATION Photo. Picture date: Thursday October 8, 2015. See PA story SOCCER N Ireland. Photo credit should read: Liam McBurney/PA Wire.
Northern Ireland fans in the stands during the UEFA European Championship Qualifying match at Windsor Park, Belfast. PRESS ASSOCIATION Photo. Picture date: Thursday October 8, 2015. See PA story SOCCER N Ireland. Photo credit should read: Niall Carson/PA Wire.
Northern Ireland's Josh Magennis celebrates scoring his side's second goal of the match during the UEFA European Championship Qualifying match at Windsor Park, Belfast. PRESS ASSOCIATION Photo. Picture date: Thursday October 8, 2015. See PA story SOCCER N Ireland. Photo credit should read: Niall Carson/PA Wire.
Northern Ireland's Josh Magennis celebrates scoring his side's second goal of the match with teammates during the UEFA European Championship Qualifying match at Windsor Park, Belfast. PRESS ASSOCIATION Photo. Picture date: Thursday October 8, 2015. See PA story SOCCER N Ireland. Photo credit should read: Niall Carson/PA Wire.
Northern Ireland fans wave a banner in the stands reading "Northern Ireland welcome to France Euro 2016" during the UEFA European Championship Qualifying match at Windsor Park, Belfast. PRESS ASSOCIATION Photo. Picture date: Thursday October 8, 2015. See PA story SOCCER N Ireland. Photo credit should read: Niall Carson/PA Wire.
Northern Ireland's Steven Davis celebrates scoring his side's third goal of the match with teammates during the UEFA European Championship Qualifying match at Windsor Park, Belfast. PRESS ASSOCIATION Photo. Picture date: Thursday October 8, 2015. See PA story SOCCER N Ireland. Photo credit should read: Niall Carson/PA Wire.
Northern Ireland Steven Davis (not pictured) celebrates with teammates after scoring his side's third goal of the game during the UEFA European Championship Qualifying match at Windsor Park, Belfast. PRESS ASSOCIATION Photo. Picture date: Thursday October 8, 2015. See PA story SOCCER N Ireland. Photo credit should read: Liam McBurney/PA Wire.
Northern Ireland's Steven Davis celebrates after scoring his side's third goal of the game during the UEFA European Championship Qualifying match at Windsor Park, Belfast. PRESS ASSOCIATION Photo. Picture date: Thursday October 8, 2015. See PA story SOCCER N Ireland. Photo credit should read: Liam McBurney/PA Wire.
Northern Ireland's manager Micheal O'Neill (C)c celebrates his team's second goal during the UEFA Euro 2016 qualifying Group F football match between Northern Ireland and Greece at Windsor Park in Belfast, Northern Ireland, on October 8, 2015. AFP PHOTO / PAUL FAITHPAUL FAITH/AFP/Getty Images
Northern Ireland midfielder Steven Davis (C) celebrates with Northern Ireland's defender Gareth McAuley (R) after scoring his team's third goal during the UEFA Euro 2016 qualifying Group F football match between Northern Ireland and Greece at Windsor Park in Belfast, Northern Ireland, on October 8, 2015. AFP PHOTO / PAUL FAITHPAUL FAITH/AFP/Getty Images
Northern Ireland's Josh Magennis (centre, left) celebrates scoring his side's second goal of the match with teammates during the UEFA European Championship Qualifying match at Windsor Park, Belfast. PRESS ASSOCIATION Photo. Picture date: Thursday October 8, 2015. See PA story SOCCER N Ireland. Photo credit should read: Niall Carson/PA Wire.
Northern Ireland's Josh Magennis celebrates scoring his side's second goal of the match with Northern Ireland manager Michael O'Neill (right) during the UEFA European Championship Qualifying match at Windsor Park, Belfast. PRESS ASSOCIATION Photo. Picture date: Thursday October 8, 2015. See PA story SOCCER N Ireland. Photo credit should read: Niall Carson/PA Wire.
Northern Ireland's Josh Magennis (not pictured) scores his side's second goal of the game during the UEFA European Championship Qualifying match at Windsor Park, Belfast. PRESS ASSOCIATION Photo. Picture date: Thursday October 8, 2015. See PA story SOCCER N Ireland. Photo credit should read: Liam McBurney/PA Wire.
Northern Ireland's Josh Magennis scores his side's second goal of the game during the UEFA European Championship Qualifying match at Windsor Park, Belfast. PRESS ASSOCIATION Photo. Picture date: Thursday October 8, 2015. See PA story SOCCER N Ireland. Photo credit should read: Liam McBurney/PA Wire.
Northern Ireland's Josh Magennis celebrates scoring his side's second goal of the match with teammates during the UEFA European Championship Qualifying match at Windsor Park, Belfast. PRESS ASSOCIATION Photo. Picture date: Thursday October 8, 2015. See PA story SOCCER N Ireland. Photo credit should read: Niall Carson/PA Wire.
BELFAST, NORTHERN IRELAND - OCTOBER 8: Stuart Dallas of Northern Ireland (2nd L) and Vasilis Torosidis of Greece (R) during the UEFA EURO 2016 qualifier between Northern Ireland and Greece at Windsor Park on October 8, 2015 in Belfast, Northern Ireland. (Photo by Charles McQuillan/Getty Images)
Steve Davis (L) of Northern Ireland celebrates after scoring during the UEFA EURO 2016 qualifier between Northern Ireland and Greece at Windsor Park on October 8, 2015 in Belfast, Northern Ireland. (Photo by Charles McQuillan/Getty Images)
Greece's Alexandros Tziolis (left) and Panagiotis Kone (centre) battle for the ball with Northern Ireland's Paddy McNair during the UEFA European Championship Qualifying match at Windsor Park, Belfast. PRESS ASSOCIATION Photo. Picture date: Thursday October 8, 2015. See PA story SOCCER N Ireland. Photo credit should read: Liam McBurney/PA Wire.
Golfer Rory McIlroy during the UEFA European Championship Qualifying match at Windsor Park, Belfast. PRESS ASSOCIATION Photo. Picture date: Thursday October 8, 2015. See PA story SOCCER N Ireland. Photo credit should read: Niall Carson/PA Wire.
Northern Ireland team celebrate Steven Davis' first goal of the game during the UEFA European Championship Qualifying match at Windsor Park, Belfast. PRESS ASSOCIATION Photo. Picture date: Thursday October 8, 2015. See PA story SOCCER N Ireland. Photo credit should read: Liam McBurney/PA Wire.
Northern Ireland's Steven Davis (centre) celebrates scoring his side's first goal of the game during the UEFA European Championship Qualifying match at Windsor Park, Belfast. PRESS ASSOCIATION Photo. Picture date: Thursday October 8, 2015. See PA story SOCCER N Ireland. Photo credit should read: Liam McBurney/PA Wire.
Northern Ireland's Steven Davis (centre) celebrates scoring his side's first goal of the game during the UEFA European Championship Qualifying match at Windsor Park, Belfast. PRESS ASSOCIATION Photo. Picture date: Thursday October 8, 2015. See PA story SOCCER N Ireland. Photo credit should read: Liam McBurney/PA Wire.
Northern Ireland's Steven Davis (right, number 8) celebrates scoring his side's first goal of the match with teammates during the UEFA European Championship Qualifying match at Windsor Park, Belfast. PRESS ASSOCIATION Photo. Picture date: Thursday October 8, 2015. See PA story SOCCER N Ireland. Photo credit should read: Niall Carson/PA Wire.
Northern Ireland's Steven Davis (right, number 8) celebrates scoring his side's first goal of the match with teammates during the UEFA European Championship Qualifying match at Windsor Park, Belfast. PRESS ASSOCIATION Photo. Picture date: Thursday October 8, 2015. See PA story SOCCER N Ireland. Photo credit should read: Niall Carson/PA Wire.
Northern Ireland's defender Gareth McAuley (R) vies for the ball with Greece's forward Kostas Mitroglou during the UEFA Euro 2016 qualifying Group F football match between Northern Ireland and Greece at Windsor Park in Belfast, Northern Ireland, on October 8, 2015. AFP PHOTO / PAUL FAITHPAUL FAITH/AFP/Getty Images
Northern Ireland's midfielder Steven Davis (C) celebrates with teammates after scoring the opening goal during the UEFA Euro 2016 qualifying Group F football match between Northern Ireland and Greece at Windsor Park in Belfast, Northern Ireland, on October 8, 2015. AFP PHOTO / PAUL FAITHPAUL FAITH/AFP/Getty Images
BELFAST, NORTHERN IRELAND - OCTOBER 8: Steve Davis (L) of Northern Ireland celebrates after scoring during the UEFA EURO 2016 qualifier between Northern Ireland and Greece at Windsor Park on October 8, 2015 in Belfast, Northern Ireland. (Photo by Charles McQuillan/Getty Images)
BELFAST, NORTHERN IRELAND - OCTOBER 8: Steve Davis (L) of Northern Ireland celebrates after scoring during the UEFA EURO 2016 qualifier between Northern Ireland and Greece at Windsor Park on October 8, 2015 in Belfast, Northern Ireland. (Photo by Charles McQuillan/Getty Images)
Greece's Konstantinos Mitroglou and Northern Ireland's Gareth McAuley (left) battle for the ball during the UEFA European Championship Qualifying match at Windsor Park, Belfast. PRESS ASSOCIATION Photo. Picture date: Thursday October 8, 2015. See PA story SOCCER N Ireland. Photo credit should read: Niall Carson/PA Wire.
Greece's Konstantinos Mitroglou and Northern Ireland's Gareth McAuley (left) battle for the ball during the UEFA European Championship Qualifying match at Windsor Park, Belfast. PRESS ASSOCIATION Photo. Picture date: Thursday October 8, 2015. See PA story SOCCER N Ireland. Photo credit should read: Niall Carson/PA Wire.
Greece's Panagiotis Kone and Northern Ireland's Oliver Norwood (right) battle for the ball the UEFA European Championship Qualifying match at Windsor Park, Belfast. PRESS ASSOCIATION Photo. Picture date: Thursday October 8, 2015. See PA story SOCCER N Ireland. Photo credit should read: Niall Carson/PA Wire.
Northern Ireland's Josh Magennis in action during the UEFA European Championship Qualifying match at Windsor Park, Belfast. PRESS ASSOCIATION Photo. Picture date: Thursday October 8, 2015. See PA story SOCCER N Ireland. Photo credit should read: Niall Carson/PA Wire.
Northern Ireland team before the UEFA European Championship Qualifying match at Windsor Park, Belfast. PRESS ASSOCIATION Photo. Picture date: Thursday October 8, 2015. See PA story SOCCER N Ireland. Photo credit should read: Liam McBurney/PA Wire.
Northern Ireland's Corry Evans (R) vie for the ball with Greece's Andreas Samaris during the UEFA Euro 2016 qualifying Group F football match between Northern Ireland and Greece at Windsor Park in Belfast, Northern Ireland, on October 8, 2015. AFP PHOTO / PAUL FAITHPAUL FAITH/AFP/Getty Images
BELFAST, NORTHERN IRELAND - OCTOBER 8: Josh Magennis of Northern Ireland (L) and Vangelis Moras of Greece (R) during the Euro 2016 Group F international football match at Windsor Park on October 8, 2015 in Belfast, Northern Ireland. (Photo by Charles McQuillan/Getty Images)
BELFAST, NORTHERN IRELAND - OCTOBER 8: Greece fans attends the UEFA EURO 2016 qualifier between Northern Ireland and Greece at Windsor Park on October 8, 2015 in Belfast, Northern Ireland. (Photo by Charles McQuillan/Getty Images)
Northern Ireland's Kyle Lafferty and Johnny Evans before Thursday night's UEFA Euro 2016 Qualifier at Windsor Park, Belfast. Photo by William Cherry/PressEye
Northern Ireland manager Michael O'Neill inspects the pitch before Thursday evening's Euro 2016 Group F international football match at Windsor Park on October 8, 2015 in Belfast, Northern Ireland. (Photo by Charles McQuillan/Getty Images)
Northern Ireland manager Michael O'Neill before Thursday night's UEFA Euro 2016 Qualifier at Windsor Park, Belfast. Photo by William Cherry/PressEye
Northern Ireland captain Steve Davis reads the match day programme before Thursday evening's Euro 2016 Group F international football match at Windsor Park on October 8, 2015 in Belfast, Northern Ireland. (Photo by Charles McQuillan/Getty Images)
Northern Ireland v Greece Euro 2016 Qualifier Group Group F Northern Ireland's Jonny Evans and Kyle Lafferty during this evenings game at Windsor park in Belfast. Photo Colm Lenaghan/Pacemaker Press
Northern Ireland v Greece Euro 2016 Qualifier Group Group F Northern Ireland's Ryan McLaughlin , Jonny Evans , Kyle Lafferty and Aaron Hughes during this evenings game at Windsor park in Belfast. Photo Colm Lenaghan/Pacemaker Press
Northern Ireland v Greece Euro 2016 Qualifier Group Group F Northern Ireland's Conor McLaughlin , Jonny Evans and Kyle Lafferty during this evenings game at Windsor park in Belfast. Photo Colm Lenaghan/Pacemaker Press
Northern Ireland's Josh Magennis makes his way off the pitch before this evening's Euro 2016 Group F international football match at Windsor Park on October 8, 2015 in Belfast, Northern Ireland. (Photo by Charles McQuillan/Getty Images)
Northern Ireland manager Michael O'Neill inspects the pitch before this evening's Euro 2016 Group F international football match at Windsor Park on October 8, 2015 in Belfast, Northern Ireland. (Photo by Charles McQuillan/Getty Images)
Northern Ireland captain Steve Davis reads the match day programme before this evening's Euro 2016 Group F international football match at Windsor Park on October 8, 2015 in Belfast, Northern Ireland. (Photo by Charles McQuillan/Getty Images)

A majority of people in Northern Ireland would support an all-Ireland football team, new research has found.

More than half of the population (54%) would favour an all- island team, similar to the Irish Rugby team.

In terms of religious background, the majority in favour came from the Catholic community, with 69% supporting such a change compared to 39% of Protestants.

However former Irish Football Association (IFA) president Jim Boyce said two teams in Ireland allowed more players the opportunity to play for a national side.

Rugby was viewed by respondents as the most inclusive of the three main ball games in Northern Ireland, and GAA the least inclusive.

It also found that more than half (52%) do no physical activity or sport at all.

This study, Social Exclusion and Sport in Northern Ireland, was carried out by the Ulster University.

It found:

  • 42% believe national anthems should remain part of sport (36% believe they should be removed);
  • 51% believe that segregated schools are a major cause of segregation in sport;
  • 52% do no sport or physical activity at all;
  • 57% believe there is nothing wrong with different sports or teams being for Protestants or Catholics;
  • 84% believe sports in Northern Ireland are more open and inclusive than 10 years ago;
  • 90% believe that sport is a good way to break down barriers between Protestants and Catholics.

Read more: Fifa considers expanding World Cup from 32 teams to 40

The report also concluded that Catholics are "quite positively disposed towards Northern Ireland international soccer", and that 71% of Catholics along with 65% of Protestants feel the IFA was taking active steps to welcome all traditions.

Ireland's striker Jonathan Walters (C) celebrates after scoring his team's first goal from a penalty during a UEFA Euro 2016 Group D qualifying second leg play-off football match between Ireland and Bosnia Herzegovina at the Aviva stadium in Dublin on November 16, 2015. AFP PHOTO / PAUL FAITHPAUL FAITH/AFP/Getty Images
Ireland's striker Jonathan Walters (C) celebrates after scoring his team's first goal from a penalty during a UEFA Euro 2016 Group D qualifying second leg play-off football match between Ireland and Bosnia Herzegovina at the Aviva stadium in Dublin on November 16, 2015. AFP PHOTO / PAUL FAITHPAUL FAITH/AFP/Getty Images
Republic of Ireland's Jonathan Walters scores his sides first goal of the game from the penalty spot during the UEFA Euro 2016 Qualifying Playoff second leg at the Aviva Stadium, Dublin. PRESS ASSOCIATION Photo. Picture date: Monday November 16, 2015. See PA story SOCCER Republic. Photo credit should read: Martin Rickett/PA Wire. RESTRICTIONS Editorial use only, No commercial use without prior permission, please contact PA Images for further information: Tel: +44 (0) 115 8447447.
DUBLIN, IRELAND - NOVEMBER 16: Jon Walters of Republic of Ireland scores from the penalty spot during the Euro 2016 play-off second leg between the Republic of Ireland and Bosnia-Herzegovina at Aviva Stadium on November 16, 2015 in Dublin, Ireland. (Photo by Charles McQuillan/Getty Images)
Bosnia and Herzegovina goalkeeper Asmir Begovic saves an attempt on goal by Republic of Ireland's Daryl Murphy during the UEFA Euro 2016 Qualifying Playoff second leg at the Aviva Stadium, Dublin. PRESS ASSOCIATION Photo. Picture date: Monday November 16, 2015. See PA story SOCCER Republic. Photo credit should read: Niall Carson/PA Wire. RESTRICTIONS Editorial use only, No commercial use without prior permission, please contact PA Images for further information: Tel: +44 (0) 115 8447447.
Republic of Ireland fans Shane Peppard (centre) with his son Clayton, aged 9, (left) and nephew Sean, 12, from Clondalkin during the UEFA Euro 2016 Qualifying Playoff second leg between Republic of Ireland and Bosnia and Herzegovina at the Aviva Stadium, Dublin. PRESS ASSOCIATION Photo. Picture date: Monday November 16, 2015. See PA story SOCCER Republic. Photo credit should read: Brian Lawless/PA Wire.
James McCarthy of the Republic of Ireland goes past the tackle from Edin Cocalic of Bosnia and Herzegovina during the UEFA EURO 2016 Qualifier play off, second leg match between Republic of Ireland and Bosnia and Herzegovina at the Aviva Stadium on November 16, 2015 in Dublin, Ireland. (Photo by Ian Walton/Getty Images)
Republic of Ireland's Seamus Coleman and Bosnia and Herzegovina's Senad Lulic (rear) battle for the ball during the UEFA Euro 2016 Qualifying Playoff second leg at the Aviva Stadium, Dublin. PA
Senad Lulic of Bosnia and Herzegovina takes on Seamus Coleman of the Republic of Ireland iduring the UEFA EURO 2016 Qualifier play off, second leg match between Republic of Ireland and Bosnia and Herzegovina at the Aviva Stadium on November 16, 2015 in Dublin, Ireland. (Photo by Ian Walton/Getty Images)
Republic of Ireland's Jonathan Walters (right) has a chance saved by Bosnia and Herzegovina goalkeeper Asmir Begovic (left) during the UEFA Euro 2016 Qualifying Playoff second leg at the Aviva Stadium, Dublin. PA
Wes Hoolahan (R) of Republic of Ireland and Ognjen Vranjes (L) Bosnia-Herzegovina during the Euro 2016 play-off second leg match at Aviva Stadium on November 16, 2015 in Dublin, Ireland. (Photo by Charles McQuillan/Getty Images)
Bosnia and Herzegovina fans in the stands prior to the UEFA Euro 2016 Qualifying Playoff second leg at the Aviva Stadium, Dublin. PRESS ASSOCIATION Photo. Picture date: Monday November 16, 2015. See PA story SOCCER Republic. Photo credit should read: Niall Carson/PA Wire. RESTRICTIONS Editorial use only, No commercial use without prior permission, please contact PA Images for further information: Tel: +44 (0) 115 8447447.
Bosnia and Herzegovina fans in the stands prior to the UEFA Euro 2016 Qualifying Playoff second leg at the Aviva Stadium, Dublin. PRESS ASSOCIATION Photo. Picture date: Monday November 16, 2015. See PA story SOCCER Republic. Photo credit should read: Niall Carson/PA Wire. RESTRICTIONS Editorial use only, No commercial use without prior permission, please contact PA Images for further information: Tel: +44 (0) 115 8447447.
A Republic of Ireland fan in the stands prior to the UEFA Euro 2016 Qualifying Playoff second leg at the Aviva Stadium, Dublin. PRESS ASSOCIATION Photo. Picture date: Monday November 16, 2015. See PA story SOCCER Republic. Photo credit should read: Niall Carson/PA Wire. RESTRICTIONS Editorial use only, No commercial use without prior permission, please contact PA Images for further information: Tel: +44 (0) 115 8447447.
Young Ireland supporters show their support ahead of the UEFA Euro 2016 Qualifying Playoff second leg at the Aviva Stadium, Dublin. PA
A Republic of Ireland fan in the stands prior to the UEFA Euro 2016 Qualifying Playoff second leg at the Aviva Stadium, Dublin. PRESS ASSOCIATION Photo. Picture date: Monday November 16, 2015. See PA story SOCCER Republic. Photo credit should read: Niall Carson/PA Wire. RESTRICTIONS Editorial use only, No commercial use without prior permission, please contact PA Images for further information: Tel: +44 (0) 115 8447447.
A Bosnia and Herzegovina fan in the stands prior to the UEFA Euro 2016 Qualifying Playoff second leg at the Aviva Stadium, Dublin. PRESS ASSOCIATION Photo. Picture date: Monday November 16, 2015. See PA story SOCCER Republic. Photo credit should read: Niall Carson/PA Wire. RESTRICTIONS Editorial use only, No commercial use without prior permission, please contact PA Images for further information: Tel: +44 (0) 115 8447447.
DUBLIN, IRELAND - NOVEMBER 16: Bosnia and Herzegovina fans enjoy the atmosphere prior to kickoff during the UEFA EURO 2016 Qualifier play off, second leg match between Republic of Ireland and Bosnia and Herzegovina at the Aviva Stadium on November 16, 2015 in Dublin, Ireland. (Photo by Ian Walton/Getty Images)
DUBLIN, IRELAND - NOVEMBER 16: Bosnia and Herzegovina fans enjoy the atmosphere prior to kickoff during the UEFA EURO 2016 Qualifier play off, second leg match between Republic of Ireland and Bosnia and Herzegovina at the Aviva Stadium on November 16, 2015 in Dublin, Ireland. (Photo by Ian Walton/Getty Images)
DUBLIN, IRELAND - NOVEMBER 16: Bosnia and Herzegovina fans take pictures of there team warming up prior to kickoff during the UEFA EURO 2016 Qualifier play off, second leg match between Republic of Ireland and Bosnia and Herzegovina at the Aviva Stadium on November 16, 2015 in Dublin, Ireland. (Photo by Ian Walton/Getty Images)
A Bosnia and Herzegovina fan in the stands prior to the UEFA Euro 2016 Qualifying Playoff second leg at the Aviva Stadium, Dublin. PRESS ASSOCIATION Photo. Picture date: Monday November 16, 2015. See PA story SOCCER Republic. Photo credit should read: Niall Carson/PA Wire. RESTRICTIONS Editorial use only, No commercial use without prior permission, please contact PA Images for further information: Tel: +44 (0) 115 8447447.
DUBLIN, IRELAND - NOVEMBER 16: Fans make their way into the ground before the Euro 2016 play-off second leg match between the Republic of Ireland and Bosnia-Herzegovina at Aviva Stadium on November 16, 2015 in Dublin, Ireland. (Photo by Charles McQuillan/Getty Images)
DUBLIN, IRELAND - NOVEMBER 16: Bosnia fans pose for pictures before the Euro 2016 play-off second leg match between the Republic of Ireland and Bosnia-Herzegovina at Aviva Stadium on November 16, 2015 in Dublin, Ireland. (Photo by Charles McQuillan/Getty Images)
DUBLIN, IRELAND - NOVEMBER 16: Scarves on sale by street sellers before the Euro 2016 play-off second leg match between the Republic of Ireland and Bosnia-Herzegovina at Aviva Stadium on November 16, 2015 in Dublin, Ireland. (Photo by Charles McQuillan/Getty Images)
DUBLIN, IRELAND - NOVEMBER 16: Republic of Ireland fans pose for pictures before the Euro 2016 play-off second leg match between the Republic of Ireland and Bosnia-Herzegovina at Aviva Stadium on November 16, 2015 in Dublin, Ireland. (Photo by Charles McQuillan/Getty Images)
DUBLIN, IRELAND - NOVEMBER 16: Bosnia fans pose for pictures before the Euro 2016 play-off second leg match between the Republic of Ireland and Bosnia-Herzegovina at Aviva Stadium on November 16, 2015 in Dublin, Ireland. (Photo by Charles McQuillan/Getty Images)
Ireland's Seamus Coleman during the UEFA Euro 2016 Qualifying Playoff second leg at the Aviva Stadium, Dublin. PRESS ASSOCIATION Photo. Picture date: Monday November 16, 2015. See PA story SOCCER Republic. Photo credit should read: Martin Rickett/PA Wire. RESTRICTIONS Editorial use only, No commercial use without prior permission, please contact PA Images for further information: Tel: +44 (0) 115 8447447.
DUBLIN, IRELAND - NOVEMBER 16: The Bosnia and Herzegovina team warm up prior to kickoff during the UEFA EURO 2016 Qualifier play off, second leg match between Republic of Ireland and Bosnia and Herzegovina at the Aviva Stadium on November 16, 2015 in Dublin, Ireland. (Photo by Ian Walton/Getty Images)
DUBLIN, IRELAND - NOVEMBER 16: Roy Keane (C) of the Republic of Ireland warms up prior to kickoff during the UEFA EURO 2016 Qualifier play off, second leg match between Republic of Ireland and Bosnia and Herzegovina at the Aviva Stadium on November 16, 2015 in Dublin, Ireland. (Photo by Ian Walton/Getty Images)
DUBLIN, IRELAND - NOVEMBER 16: Republic of Ireland assistant coach Roy Keane looks on as his players warm up prior to kickoff during the UEFA EURO 2016 Qualifier play off, second leg match between Republic of Ireland and Bosnia and Herzegovina at the Aviva Stadium on November 16, 2015 in Dublin, Ireland. (Photo by Ian Walton/Getty Images)
Young Ireland supporters show their support ahead of the UEFA Euro 2016 Qualifying Playoff second leg at the Aviva Stadium, Dublin. PRESS ASSOCIATION Photo. Picture date: Monday November 16, 2015. See PA story SOCCER Republic. Photo credit should read: Martin Rickett/PA Wire. RESTRICTIONS Editorial use only, No commercial use without prior permission, please contact PA Images for further information: Tel: +44 (0) 115 8447447.
Republic of Ireland supporters outside the stadium before the UEFA Euro 2016 Qualifying Playoff second leg between Republic of Ireland and Bosnia and Herzegovina at the Aviva Stadium, Dublin. PRESS ASSOCIATION Photo. Picture date: Monday November 16, 2015. See PA story SOCCER Republic. Photo credit should read: Brian Lawless/PA Wire.
A general view of the electronic scoreboad and hoarding boards ahead of the UEFA Euro 2016 Qualifying Playoff second leg at the Aviva Stadium, Dublin. PRESS ASSOCIATION Photo. Picture date: Monday November 16, 2015. See PA story SOCCER Republic. Photo credit should read: Martin Rickett/PA Wire. RESTRICTIONS Editorial use only, No commercial use without prior permission, please contact PA Images for further information: Tel: +44 (0) 115 8447447.
A general view of the Aviva Stadium ahead of the the UEFA Euro 2016 Qualifying Playoff second leg at the Aviva Stadium, Dublin. PRESS ASSOCIATION Photo. Picture date: Monday November 16, 2015. See PA story SOCCER Republic. Photo credit should read: Martin Rickett/PA Wire. RESTRICTIONS Editorial use only, No commercial use without prior permission, please contact PA Images for further information: Tel: +44 (0) 115 8447447.
DUBLIN, IRELAND - NOVEMBER 16: A general view of the stadium prior to kickoff during the UEFA EURO 2016 Qualifier play off, second leg match between Republic of Ireland and Bosnia and Herzegovina at the Aviva Stadium on November 16, 2015 in Dublin, Ireland. (Photo by Ian Walton/Getty Images)
DUBLIN, IRELAND - NOVEMBER 16: A general view of the stadium prior to kickoff during the UEFA EURO 2016 Qualifier play off, second leg match between Republic of Ireland and Bosnia and Herzegovina at the Aviva Stadium on November 16, 2015 in Dublin, Ireland. (Photo by Ian Walton/Getty Images)
DUBLIN, IRELAND - NOVEMBER 16: A general view of the stadium prior to kickoff during the UEFA EURO 2016 Qualifier play off, second leg match between Republic of Ireland and Bosnia and Herzegovina at the Aviva Stadium on November 16, 2015 in Dublin, Ireland. (Photo by Ian Walton/Getty Images)
DUBLIN, IRELAND - NOVEMBER 16: A general view of the stadium prior to kickoff during the UEFA EURO 2016 Qualifier play off, second leg match between Republic of Ireland and Bosnia and Herzegovina at the Aviva Stadium on November 16, 2015 in Dublin, Ireland. (Photo by Ian Walton/Getty Images)

Around two-thirds of Catholic respondents said they would like to see more Catholics supporting the NI international team, while only a slightly higher proportion of Protestants (60%) than Catholics (56%) said they would be willing to attend Windsor Park if offered tickets.

GAA is seen as overwhelmingly the preserve of the Catholic community, with only 1% of Protestant respondents saying they had watched "a lot of Gaelic football in the last year", compared with 31% of Catholics.

Only 39% of Protestants said they would attend a match in Casement Park if offered tickets compared to 78% of Catholics.

Ulster Rugby's home ground was regarded by respondents as the most inclusive of the three stadium sports; with 69% of Catholics saying they would attend if offered tickets, and 66% of Protestants.

In 1973, the Northern Ireland and Republic of Ireland teams came together for just one match in a united team experiment.

The "Shamrock Rovers XI" whose players included current Republic of Ireland manager Martin O'Neill, played a one-off match against Brazil at Lansdowne Road - now the Aviva Stadium.

Belfast football legend George Best was a fan of the idea of an all-Ireland football team, his widow Alex revealed earlier this year.

But Mr Boyce said: "I have always said the fact that there are two teams in Ireland, a Republic of Ireland team and a Northern Ireland team, means that more players, both male and female, have the opportunity to represent their countries at international level. Personally I think that is the way that things should stay."

Ulster University's Professor Owen Hargie said the study is the first of its kind.

"For the first time ever Northern Ireland now has a benchmark for both government and local sporting organisations to chart the evolution of local attitudes to the future of sport," he said.

"This is the beginning of a much wider debate and we look forward to seeing our recommendations shape the future generation of sport."

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