Recently, former Irish international Niall Quinn announced that he had a plan to save Irish football and I for one would welcome anything that might improve grassroots football and the League of Ireland. Wouldn’t it be great to have a Republic of Ireland team made up of homegrown talent? No more being dumped by the likes of Jack Grealish and Declan Rice.
I was in Dublin last weekend and got involved in a friendly debate with a Shamrock Rovers fan who described Liverpool and Manchester United fans (and fans of other English teams) as ‘bar stoolers’ (no mention of Celtic fans strangely!). He was adamant that we should be supporting our own and that the only way to improve domestic soccer was to get behind the League of Ireland and forget about Pogba and Salah and Hazard. He had a valid point.
Unfortunately, much like Grealish and Rice you just can’t help how you feel. The old English First Division and later the English Premier League got Irish soccer fans hooked and it’s only recently that some have decided to seek home comforts away from the big money of the Premier League. I’ve even seen it myself: former United and Liverpool fanatics who now spend their Fridays in Inchicore, Phibsboro and Tallaght. They still appreciate the English giants but their passion is now reserved for the Jodi Stand or The Shed End and trips to Oriel Park and Turner’s Cross.
Truth be known, I envy them. Bad defeats never seem to sting as much when surrounded by members of your own tribe. But, like I said earlier, you can’t help who you love!
This weekend, Roscommon soccer fans will be glued to the TV as the two greatest clubs in English football meet at Old Trafford. Grown men in replica jerseys and red and white or red, white and black scarves will cheer on their team against their most hated rivals.
Pogba and Salah may not have been born anywhere near Rahara, Lisnamult, Lecarrow or even Dublin, but that won’t matter to their thousands of Irish supporters come Sunday afternoon.