WITH EURO 2012 less than a fortnight away, there were calls for an all Ireland soccer team at the Sinn Féin Ard Fheis in Killarney, Co Kerry yesterday.
Speeches from party members focused on a wide range of issues with TD Sandra McLellan among those to reiterate the party’s call for the island’s two international soccer teams, the Republic of Ireland and Northern Ireland, to unite.
She told delegates: “Other sports have shown maturity and rationale, it’s a pity that soccer does not learn from other sports when one team represents Ireland in such sports like rugby, cricket and international rules.
“Having one team from Ireland has witnessed the uniting of the entire county in full support of that team. There are no mentions of divisions between North, South, East or West.”
McLellan claimed that Northern Ireland and Manchester United legend George Best supported the creation of such a team and said that it would “undoubtedly” lead to the creation of a more successful soccer team on the international stage.
While the Republic of Ireland prepare to do battle in Poland at the European Championships next month, Northern Ireland have been less successful in recent times.
They currently lie 100th in the world rankings below the likes of Vietnam, Guyana and Antigua and Barbuda and have seen talented players born in the North such as winger James McClean and midfielder Darron Gibson opt to play for the Republic.
“Even an Italian, Giovanni Trapattoni, knows that an Irish team is better when its an all-Ireland team,” Sinn Féin councillor Matt McCarthy told the conference yesterday.
He added: “Giovanni Trapattoni’s team will be better because James McClean and Darron Gibson will be in the squad alongside Robbie Keane and Shay Given. Because Irish teams are stronger when they’re all-Ireland teams.”