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Off the ball

• I refer to your recent article quoting James McClean and his reasons for choosing to play for the Republic of Ireland football team, having played for Northern Ireland football teams at underage and under-21 levels.

I'm not sure if James has ever been to a Northern Ireland game; but the "songs and chants" that he refers to paint a very different picture to the Northern Ireland matches that I attend, and he is being grossly unfair to make such suggestions.



As Northern Ireland fans, we understand the situation whereby players from Northern Ireland can choose which Ireland to play for, and we respect that situation.



Many may feel there should not be two Irish football teams; but that's the way it is and has been for many, many years.



I have taken great pride in following Northern Ireland for years, with players from all Irish cultures playing for us.



However, in my opinion, it is not fair or sporting to allow a situation where players such as James use Northern Ireland as a 'stepping stone' in their career. If James feels so strongly, why did he not play for the Republic of Ireland from the outset?



The oft-presented argument, of there being no Republic of Ireland set-up in Northern Ireland, doesn't stand up. (This is a relatively small island after all, and would Scotland or Wales allow an English set-up?)



Why did James as a young aspiring footballer not go to Dublin and play for the underage Republic of Ireland teams, and yet travelled and played for Northern Ireland?



James's intentions and motives are clear for all to see, and having made his decision, should he not content himself with that decision, and be happy with the fact that he is going to the Euros?



The fact that his manager has advised him to cease tweeting speaks volumes.



I write this with no ill feeling and as someone who lives in Northern Ireland, but spends a great deal of their life working and socialising in all parts of Ireland, I feel that James's comments are misleading to your readers, and entirely unrepresentative.



Alan Corbett



Bangor, Co Down