13 March, 2011

Let's keep the Irish team IRISH; a critique of Jermaine Pennant's declaration for Ireland:

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Ex England U-21 & current Ireland player Pennant
Perhaps the best thing about our latest potential recruit is that he's always given 100 per cent. Not to football admittedly, but let's not be harsh. Here's a guy whose Irish heritage really matters to him. That's why he says, "I'd love to play for England but it's just never happened." You can't ask for more than that.
Jermaine isn't the only one with a vision of the Irish team as a kind of rehab facility for English footballers coming to terms with the brutal truth that they'll never be good enough to play for their own country. 
Keown: happy choosing England over Éire

Jamie O'Hara has made no secret of the fact that he'd prefer to play for England but will plump for Ireland if there's nothing better to do. We're also courting Mark Noble and Kevin Nolan  who've adopted the same attitude. I know the Queen is coming but is it really necessary for the FAI to put us all in the proper mood by scavenging scraps from the master's table? You could peddle the old line  that the history of Irish emigration means that there are many English-born children of Irish parents who feel an affinity with the land of their ancestors. There's some truth in that, though it's notable that Martin Keown , who had two Irish parents, played GAA as a kid and visited Ireland every year, opted for England even though, as he's said himself, he was more Irish than many Irish internationals. Or you could defend our scouring the English game for anyone with the most tenuous of Irish connections on the pragmatic grounds that we don't have enough home-grown talent to be fussy. But the problem with that attitude is that it seems to make nonsense of the whole idea of having a national team. Because a national team is not a club team. We are bound to it in a different way. Otherwise most Irish people would follow the likes of Brazil or Germany at international level in the same way that they follow Manchester United  and other Premier League giants at club level. A national team full of players who are using the green jersey as a flag of convenience is a national team without a soul.
Coleman: could only choose Ireland
There's something awful about the thought of, for example, Jermaine Pennant keeping Séamus Coleman and Wes Hoolahan  out of the squad. Because if Coleman and Hoolahan don't make it with our national team they have nowhere else to go. They're just Irish.
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