Monday 26 September 2016

"Keep clear of the rats" - Some Northern Ireland fans are not too happy about the June Aviva friendly

Published 28/04/2015 | 12:27

A general view of the spectators during the game between the Republic of Ireland and Northern Ireland. Carling Four Nations Tournament, Republic of Ireland v Northern Ireland, Aviva Stadium, Lansdowne Road, Dublin. Picture credit: David Maher / SPORTSFILE
A general view of the spectators during the game between the Republic of Ireland and Northern Ireland. Carling Four Nations Tournament, Republic of Ireland v Northern Ireland, Aviva Stadium, Lansdowne Road, Dublin. Picture credit: David Maher / SPORTSFILE

When Ireland and Northern Ireland meet in a behind-closed-doors friendly in June, some of the latter team's fan my well be praying for a poor performance from Michael O'Neill's side.

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With the likes of James McClean, Darron Gibson and Shane Duffy defecting from the North and choosing to play for the Republic of Ireland instead, there is a strong feeling amongst some Northern fans that the FAI may try and lure more players down south.

"So a behind closed doors 'friendly' in Dublin v the Republic on the 4th June. Why are we still having anything to do with that shower?," read a post on the Facbook page for Our Wee Country - a Northern Ireland fans group.

"Never play them unless forced. Are people serious. Actively stealing our players and a chief executive who revels in party tunes. Disgraceful IFA."

While the game will serve as a warm-up exercise to the crucial June internationals, it is quite clear that there is a bigger picture for many Northern fans with protecting their players higher on their agenda.

Here are a selection of comments on the Our Wee Country Facebook page.

"I guess the U.K. 'C' team need to check up on how our players are coming along to see which uncapped ones they might wanna try and stroke next! Surely plenty of other teams we could play?! Why we still maintain any relationship with the underhand bigoted scum at 'Football Apartheid Ireland' is beyond me."

"The IFA will bleat about foul play when the FAI steal players born in Northern Ireland yet they fall over backwards to agree to this game? Disgraceful."

"Absolute joke! Just a chance for them to try and take our uncapped players! Why there's no fans allowed in is beyond me! Let's hope Micheal O'Neill actually plays a decent team out to avoid an embarrassing defeat when Republic play their A team and we have virtually a C team out. The IFA have done it again."

"We have the same problem in Scotland. Scottish players playing for ROI because their mam's granny's dog was was from Dublin. I think you should only be allowed to play for the country you were born in retrospective of anything else."

"Shocking decision!!! Keep clear of these rats unless we have to in a qualifier."

"Eh? I'd like to see that, a chance to beat our nearest rivals and get their fans to pipe down."

A spokesperson for Irish fans group, YouBoysInGreen, said: "Ireland go into a crucial game against Scotland on June 13 so this run out against another Celtic Nations team is most welcome.

"While we can understand that some Northern Ireland fans are angry because the likes of McClean decided to play for us, it should be stressed that these players are entitled to a choose themselves. Every player has a choice and whatever decision they make should be respected."

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