Saturday 24 March 2018

Irish FA chief: We have no interest in All-Ireland team

Northern Ireland manager Michael O'Neill
Northern Ireland manager Michael O'Neill

Northern Ireland chiefs have poured cold water on a proposal by Irish Taoiseach Enda Kenny for an all-Ireland team.

Kenny said the all-Ireland team should take on England every two years to raise money for children.

Patrick Nelson, chief executive of the Irish FA, said however there was no appetite in his organisation for such a team.

Nelson told Press Association Sport: "That's not going to be something that is on our radar. It has not been in the past and it won't be in the future."

Kenny was speaking in Armagh City at a conference on sport boosting reconciliation in Northern Ireland, and he said the matches could be played at Wembley in London or the Gaelic Athletic Association's headquarters of Croke Park in Dublin and could help fund research and facilities at specialist hospitals in Belfast and Dublin.

He said: "Wouldn't it be a wonderful thing if we could have an all-Ireland soccer team playing England, perhaps on a bi-annual basis, playing in Ireland and England, the purpose of which would be the development of research and the development of both children's hospitals on the island of Ireland.

"It would be a gesture from the sports people that would have a profound impact.

"We could take on the might of England entirely for charity, for the children's hospitals (of Belfast and Dublin), for the children of the island, for research and development of what can impact on their little lives.

"It is just a thought, it might be something that could become a reality."

Kenny was asked whether he would be involving Prime Minister David Cameron but replied: "The Prime Minister is a very engaging person but this is for the sporting organisations."

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