Sport Off the Ball

Sunday 31 August 2014

Good to have old friend and foe back

Ger Gilroy

Published 09/04/2014 | 02:30

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15 February 1995; David Kelly, Republic of Ireland, scores the opening goal past England goalkeeper David Seaman, International Soccer Friendly, Lansdowne Road, Dublin. ( The game was subsquently abadoned). Picture credit; David Maher/SPORTSFILE
David Kelly, Republic of Ireland, scores the opening goal past England goalkeeper David Seaman, 1995 International Soccer Friendly, Lansdowne Road, Dublin

England are coming back to Lansdowne Road to play football. It's just a game between neighbours now, but it's a tangled, chaotic and vaguely-defined relationship we have had with English soccer culture over the years.

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We export our best players there, generally as 16-year-olds, outsourcing their development to clubs who are only really interested in their balance sheet value, and wonder why so few make it. Supporters travel over on a weekly basis to follow teams in numbers that would make League of Ireland teams rich, which results in much belly-aching about the use of "we" and "us" to support teams in Liverpool and Manchester and beyond.

We convince the children of emigrants that the country of their parents and grandparents' birth really wants them and then we label them 'plastic paddies' or mercenaries for accepting our invitation.

We love their league and love to hate the way they hype it up. We hype it up. It's good to have them back.

Irish Independent

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