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The Republic of Ireland soccer team. No hope for Irish teams unless they combine. Photo by: Wikimedia

It is high time for an All-Ireland team at the World Cup

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The Republic of Ireland soccer team. No hope for Irish teams unless they combine. Photo by: Wikimedia

The World Cup in Brazil is a magnificent spectacle that has captured the hearts of billions worldwide.

Alas, there is no Irish presence nor is there likely to be in future.

Not since 1986 has Northern Ireland competed at the World Cup and 2002 was the last time the Irish Republic played.

It is highly unlikely either team will qualify again any time soon.

Northern Ireland is ranked 90th, just ahead of Botswana, while the Irish Republic is ranked 70th, just ahead of Trinidad, that world power.

The low ranking feeds off itself.You are seeded lower in the draws and find yourself perpetually in against higher-class opposition.

The fact is Ireland competes as one in rugby, golf, boxing, and cricket to name just four sports.

It is inexplicable that they could not do the same thing in soccer.

It would be wonderful by product of the peace process to have a united team. Hell, we’d even let them play in orange like the Dutch if that happened!

It would also end the current stand-off where some players of nationalist background have begun declaring for the Irish Republic.

Read more: Clint Dempsey, U.S. soccer hero, an Irish rags to riches story

There are only a handful of top Irish players in the English Premier League. Seamus Coleman of Everton, a top premier league side, is the prime example.

English soccer has changed with the influx of foreign players to the Premiership.Promising Irish prospects, who once were only in competition with British players for roster spots, now find themselves having to contend with the best in the world.

The presence of foreign stars makes it a lot harder for new recruits from Ireland to make that breakthrough with British clubs.

Many of the players on the current Northern Irish and Irish Republic teams come from outside the Premier League altogether and are hopelessly off the pace when it comes to playing on the world stage.

Indeed, at present the two parts of Ireland would have a tough time fielding a team with Premier League only players.

It is a long way from the glory days when Roy Keane led Manchester United and Ireland and Paul McGrath was the best central defender in the world. For Northern Ireland they had the incomparable George Best, as good as Pele in his day, and Pat Jennings, one of the greatest ever goalkeepers.

You have to go further back for Northern Ireland’s glory days, but they reached the quarterfinals of the World Cup in 1982, defeating hosts Spain along the way.

There has been talk of one team over the years, but it all came to nothing, which is a shame given that there is no obvious reason why it should not take place.

The powers-that-be will sit out every future World Cup unless they agree an overall Irish team, something that has made perfect sense in other sports.

http://www.irishcentral.com/sports/clint-dempsey-us-soccer-hero-an-irish-rags-to-riches-story-96228884-238036381.html

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