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Unite Irish teams given poor international form, says Sinn Fein man



Northern Ireland manager Michael O’Neill.

Northern Ireland manager Michael O’Neill.

PA Wire/PA Images

Northern Ireland manager Michael O’Neill.

It's fair to say 2018 has not been the most successful year for football on either side of the Irish border.

Northern Ireland have slipped back down the world rankings and endured a run of just two wins in nine matches since the turn of the year.

Things have been even worse in Dublin, where the FAI are on the search for a new manager after Martin O'Neill departed the job on Wednesday. The Republic have celebrated just one success in their nine matches of 2018.

One Sinn Fein TD now says those statistics suggest it's time the two teams became one - pointing not least to the Irish rugby team, which represents all 32 counties and overcame world number one side New Zealand in Dublin on Saturday.

"We already have all-island teams that demonstrate that we can achieve great success when we work on an all-island basis," said the party's deputy Dail leader Pearse Doherty.

“The departure of Martin O’Neill as manager of the Ireland soccer team yesterday has been a major talking point. The past year has not been an easy one for Irish soccer fans and I want to say that Irish teams are stronger and better when they are all-Ireland teams.

“We already have all-island teams in sports like hockey, rugby, and boxing; sports that demonstrate that we can achieve great success when we work on an all-island basis.

“The fantastic result of the Irish rugby team against New Zealand at the weekend is just one example."

The Irish women's hockey team, another all island entity, reached the World Cup final during the summer while this week, Paul Dunne and Shane Lowry are representing all of Ireland in the World Cup of Golf.

“The former Taoiseach Enda Kenny raised this a number of years ago when he said an all-Ireland soccer team should take on England every two years to raise money for children," continued Doherty.

“I don’t think it makes sense for our small island to have two separate teams, splitting the pool of talent and available resources.

“A number of surveys show that a majority of people, north and south, support the idea of an all-Ireland team and I would urge the government to get behind the idea of an all-Ireland soccer team”.

Mick McCarthy is the hot favourite to become the new Republic of Ireland manager, while League of Ireland winning Dundalk chief Stephen Kenny has underlined his desire to succeed Martin O'Neill.

Belfast Telegraph