Ireland national football team (IFA)
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- For the Irish FA's current international football team, see Northern Ireland national football team.
|Association||Irish Football Association|
|Most caps||Olphert Stanfield (30; 1887-1897)
[ Elisha Scott (31; 1920-1936)]
|Top scorer||Olphert Stanfield (11; 1887-1897)
[ Billy Gillespie (12; 1913-1931) &
Joe Bambrick (12; 1929-38)]
Ireland 0 - 13 England
(Belfast, February 18 1882)
Ireland 7 - 2 Wales
(Belfast, February 7 1891)
[ Ireland 7 - 0 Wales
(Belfast, February 1 1930) ]
Ireland 0 - 13 England
(Belfast, February 18 1882)
The Ireland national football team was the national association football team representing Ireland, organised from 1882 by the Irish Football Association (IFA). The IFA had been formed in 1880 in Belfast to organise football throughout the island of Ireland. Ireland was then one of the Home Nations of the United Kingdom of Great Britain and Ireland. The national team played those of the other Home Nations, England, Scotland and Wales, in the British Home Championship.
The right of the IFA to field an all-Ireland team was called into question by the establishment of the rival Football Association of Ireland in Dublin in 1921, which was recognised in 1923 as the governing body for the Irish Free State (now the Republic of Ireland). The existence of two teams with overlapping remit for international matches persisted until FIFA intervened in 1950. Since then, the IFA team has been the Northern Ireland national football team, while the FAI team is the Republic of Ireland national football team. The IFA team is recognised by FIFA  and UEFA  as the successor to the all-Ireland team.
On 18 February 1882, two years following the founding of the IFA, Ireland made their international debut against England, losing 13-0 in a friendly played at Bloomfield Park in Belfast. This remains the record win for England and the record defeat for Ireland (and Northern Ireland).
From 1884 until 1950, the IFA team, competing as Ireland, played only 3 matches per season, those of the British Home Championship. During the early competitions Ireland were regularly defeated by big margins, conceding ten goals or more on five occasions. They did not register their first victory until 1887, a 4-1 win over Wales in Belfast. Their second victory came in 1891 against the same opponents. The 7-2 scoreline was their biggest ever win as the undisputed Ireland team. The championship was monopolised by England and Scotland until 1903 when Ireland forced a three way share (goal difference did not apply). Despite losing their opening game 4-0 to England, the Irish went on to beat Scotland for the first time with a 2-0 win at Celtic Park. They then beat Wales 2-0 in Belfast.
On February 15 1913 they beat England for the first time with a 2-1 win at Windsor Park. In 1914 Ireland went a stage further and won the championship outright, with a team that included Patrick O’Connell, Billy Gillespie and Bill Lacey. After beating Wales 2-1 away, Ireland then beat England 3-0 at Ayresome Park in Middlesbrough with Lacey grabbing two of the goals. They clinched the title following a 1-1 draw with Scotland at Windsor Park in Belfast.
From 1882 to 1899 all Ireland's home matches were played in Belfast. From 1900 until 1914, one home match was usually played in Dublin in those years when Ireland had more than one home match. This largely reflected the balance of footballing strength within the country. While few southern players were selected for Belfast or away matches, more were selected for the Dublin games. A perception of Ulster bias helped fuel the divisions than led to the FAI splitting from the IFA.
 Disputed Ireland
In 1920 Ireland was partitioned into Northern Ireland and Southern Ireland. In 1922, Southern Ireland gained independence as the Irish Free State, later to become Republic of Ireland. Amid these political upheavals, a rival football association, the Football Association of Ireland, emerged in Dublin in 1921 and organised a separate league and international team. In 1923, the FAI agreed to restrict itself to the Free State. At the same time, the IFA continued to organise its national team on an all-Ireland basis, capping southern players in many of its matches. From 1936, the FAI claimed the same right, though few northern players were actually capped. Both teams now competed as Ireland. Several players, including Paddy Moore, Johnny Carey and Peter Farrell, were selected to represent both the IFA and the FAI Ireland teams. Few southern players turned down the opportunity to play for the IFA; it was both an honour and an opportunity to impress against prestigious opponents.
Throughout this period, the IFA team's results were mediocre. The heavy pre-war defeats were rarely repeated, but in the 28 Home Championships between 1920 and 1954, only four times (in 1925-6, 1927-8, 1937-8, 1947-8) did the team finish second, and never first. All the IFA team's home matches after 1914 were played in Belfast.
 Northern Ireland
FIFA attempted to remain neutral in the IFA/FAI dispute. In any case, the IFA was not affiliated to FIFA from 1928 to 1946. In 1950 FIFA finally intervened, after complaints from the FAI that several players had represented both Ireland teams in the qualifying round for the 1950 FIFA World Cup. FIFA restricted players' eligibility based on the political border. In 1953 FIFA disallowed either team using the name "Ireland", decreeing that the FAI team be officially designated the Republic of Ireland team, while the IFA team was to become the Northern Ireland team. The IFA objected and in 1954 was permitted to continue using the name "Ireland" in the British Home Championship. This practice was discontinued in the late 1970s.
The IFA Ireland team played in a variety of colours, including green, white, and blue. Blue was the established colour from before World War I until September 1931, when shirts were changed to green, the colour still worn by the modern Northern Ireland team . The reason given for the change was to obviate the need to wear white shirts when playing in Scotland, who also wore blue.
Won before 1950:
 Famous players
 See also
- Shamrock Rovers XI vs Brazil: an exhibition match in 1973 between Brazil and a cross-border team of Irish internationals.
- ^ FIFA information page on Northern Ireland
- ^ UEFA information page on Northern Ireland
- ^ Byrne, Peter (1996). Football Asssociation of Ireland: 75 years. Dublin: Sportsworld, 22. ISBN 1-900110-06-7.
- ^ Byrne, op. cit. pg 59.
- ^ Ryan, Sean (1997). The Boys in Green: the FAI international story. Edinburgh: Mainstream Publishing, 31. ISBN 1-85158-939-2.
- ^ Byrne, op. cit. pg 45.
- ^ Ryan, op. cit. pg 34.
- ^ Players Appearing for Two or More Countries from RSSSF
- ^ Byrne, op. cit. pg 59.
- ^ British Home Championship Overview from RSSSF
- ^ Fulton, Gareth (2005). "Northern Catholic fans of Republic of Ireland soccer", in Alan Bairner: Sport and the Irish : Histories, Identites, Issues. Dublin: UCD Press, 145. ISBN 1-904558-33-X.
- ^ Ryan, op. cit. pg 59.
- ^ Byrne, op. cit., pg 68
- ^ Ryan, op. cit., pg 70.
- ^ Fulton, op. cit., pg 146.
- ^ When we wore blue article from Our Wee Country fanzine #17 about early kit colours.
- ^ Brodie, Malcolm; Billy Kennedy (2005). The IFA 125 years...the history. Edenderry print limited, 108. (IFA info)
- ^ Hayes, Dean (2005). in Jean Brown: Northern Ireland: International Football Facts. Appletree. ISBN 0862818745.
 External links
- 1914 British Champions
- From RSSSF: