Sporting excellence, not goading fans, is the goal
Now that Northern Ireland's Euro 2012 campaign has come to a sadly unsuccessful end, we will no doubt have calls from many armchair pundits for an all-Ireland football team, citing the rugby team as an example of how success can be achieved.
Setting aside the fact that the apparent success of the rugby team is hardly something to aspire to (only Ireland and Italy from the Six Nations and Tri-Nations have failed to reach a World Cup semi-final), will these same pundits flood the letters columns and message boards of the Welsh Press urging them to join with England, or Andorra with Spain, or San Marino with Italy? I think not.
And just as the fans of Wales, Andorra and San Marino would not want their national team incorporated into another country's team, the same goes for Northern Ireland fans.
In any case, even if Fifa permitted two countries to combine as one, how would combining one average team and one below-average team guarantee success?
It seems pretty obvious to me that many of these callers will have politics, or goading Northern Ireland fans, as their motivation, as opposed to sporting excellence. If they want to support Ireland, good luck to them. Hopefully, now that Nigel Worthington has resigned, Northern Ireland can rebuild under the guidance of Martin O'Neill, Jim Magilton, Gerry Armstrong, or whoever else the Irish FA appoints.
Ballywalter, Co Down