Ireland – World Cup Hopes Intact

Ireland World Cup Hopes Intact

So the Ireland Women’s side took on Holland away from home last night and claimed a famous 0-0 draw. Holland won the European Championships last summer so Ireland knew they were going to be under severe pressure throughout last night’s fixture and this was the case because after two early chances for Ireland, Holland took full control of this game and laid siege to the Irish goal for the rest of the game.

This game will be remembered for the heroic display from all 11 players who defended with real intent and aggression, this was led from the front by Amber Barrett and then Leanne Kiernan took over up front and worked extremely hard to try and close the Dutch down. The Dutch for their part are a side full of quality and you could see last night why they are European Champions.

From an Irish perspective , Colin Bell who took over from Sue Ronan set his side up to stifle the Dutch attack from front to back and they did this very well and although the Dutch had loads of possession and made the Irish team work hard to win the ball back.

Again last night , we saw an Irish side struggle to keep the ball and even in that case they still managed to create two really top notch chances that fell to Amber Barrett in the 1st half but the Dutch defence worked back to snuff out the 1st chance and then Barrett saw her 2nd chance sail over the bar. 

This Irish team was missing a number of key players like Aine O Gorman and Stephanie Roche, both players were ruled out through injury. Katie Mc Cabe who plays her club football with Arsenal but is currently on loan at Glasgow City was captain last night and she worked her socks off last night and really got stuck in. She is extremely similar to her brother Gary who has played with Shamrock Rovers and a few more clubs in the League of Ireland. Her passion was infectious and it helped galvanise the side at some tough moments last night.

The likes of Marie Hourihan who plays her football with Manchester City , Diane Caldwell and Louise Quinn worked well as the two centre backs with full backs Sophie Perry and Karen Duggan working in unison to help repel the Dutch who were creating chances at will. This result is huge in the context of the hopes of getting to the 2019 Women’s World Cup. They now sit on 8 points three behind Holland who lead the way on 11.

Ireland have three home fixtures to look forward to next year where they face Holland , Norway and Slovakia in Tallaght. The other very noticeable thing from the game last night was the fact that 12,000 supporters made their way to the game. One wonders that after last night’s result will we see more people show up to the three home games in Tallaght.

Streaming had a huge impact on last night’s game because host broadcaster Eir Sport decided to stream the game on Facebook live , this of course means more people will get to see the game even if they don’t have the channel. This particular avenue will be used more and more into the future as Social Media gains momentum and this will challenge the established peaking order in terms of coverage.

Last night was a huge moment for this campaign and they can now plan for the three games in 2018. Well done to Colin Bell and his charges for securing a precious away point…


Cian Mc Gibney


Drawing Board Required – Where Do the FAI Go From Here

Drawing Board Required – Where Do the FAI Go Now

So Ireland failed in their quest to get to Russia 2018 but instead of going after the players or management which he has been done enough since the result on Tuesday evening. They were comfortably defeated 5-1 by a Danish side who like Ireland are very workmanlike but unlike Ireland they have a number of players willing to keep possession and try and play their way out of trouble.  

This defeat will sting for the next 12 months at least and with no tournament to look forward to other than a number of friendly’s that will be played next March and some  teams will come to Dublin looking for a game in preparation for the finals in Russia.

The FAI again like after the 6-1 defeat to Germany in 2012 will need to do a lot of soul searching to try and find a solution to all the problems facing the national side and this is not just who will replace members of the playing squad who may retire in the coming months. 

They need to solve an identity crisis that is happening on a regular basis and that is mainly what way do we want our national teams to play and I mean underage sides up to the senior national team. Are we a nation with an abundance of naturally talented footballers , I doubt it but and player who shows the required talent should be singled out at the earliest possible stage and put into a programme to develop his or her skills.

This particular idea would not be a easy thing to implement as the FAI and supporters want instant results but if you want to be successful in any walk of life not just sport it will take time and effort, Germany and Spain are two prime examples of countries who cleared the decks and started with a clean slate and rebuild their structures from the ground up.

The first thing you are told when you try and offer a solution is that our population is too small, we are competing with Rugby, GAA and so forth but so are all the other sports played in Ireland. It is just the way it is and it will not change is the foreseeable future because all those aforementioned sports are going nowhere and you will still be competing for the small pool of talent that exists in this country.

The FAI needs to like the IRFU just look at it structures from top to bottom and also who are in the positions of power within the FAI and ask is it time to change and try and bring in a new generation of people to run the game in Ireland. We have a generation of newly retired players, get them on board to help try and change the attitudes with the game in Ireland.

We are now in a situation where you will lose a number of players to retirement and the scramble will happen to see who will replace these departing players. Another issue facing the FAI is the fact that only 5 of the current Under 21 crop in Noel King’s care were born in the Republic Of Ireland and with all the consternation in recent times over the inclusion of Bundee Aki in the Ireland team to face South Africa last weekend, can you imagine the outcry this week from people if the Ireland side to face Fiji only had 5 players born in Ireland.

There would be utter condemnation of the structures that the IRFU in place. Getting back to the issues facing the Republic Of Ireland, It really is time that the FAI sat down with all the stake holders and people who love the game in this country and try and come up with a clear 10 year plan to try and bring the game in this country back to something of its former glory.

The League Of Ireland is the perfect breathing ground for a new generation of players to be born , yes England would be the preferred destination for most players but you cannot forget about the work being put in by coaches all over Ireland to try and change attitudes but the FAI need to be the ones to lead the call for change so that results like Tuesday night are going to become a distant memory , always remember long time gain for short term pain….. The good times were had before and no doubt those good days will return very soon…


Cian Mc Gibney


Irish Team – Aki Included

Ireland Team Named – Aki Included

So the Ireland team to play South Africa has been announced with Bundee Aki included in the 23 for the first time. His inclusion in the 38 man squad for these games has come in for criticism with a number of ex players voicing their concerns about how the regulations make it easy for certain “project players” as they have been called to get called up to their adopted nations national squads.

Rory Scannell has missed out on an opportunity to get more caps this November although injury could intervene and he may yet get the chance to add another few caps to his collection. Aki has abided by the rules set down by World Rugby and will now earn his first cap a special moment for any player against South Africa this Saturday at 5.30pm in the Aviva Stadium.

This particular rule has angered everyone as everyone has an opinion whether it is in favour or not in favour of this rule. Now World Rugby have acted in the face of mounting criticism and extended the residency rules from 3 to 5 years. This move will now all but end the idea of any player going to another country and playing for that National side.

Many people have an opinion on this particular aspect of rugby and yes it is flawed and you can be sure it does anger players whether they would like to admit it or not. A small number have come forward and been honest enough to admit there true feelings on the subject in the aftermath of their careers.

You can be sure that Bundee Aki will give his all on Saturday for the green shirt and the subject of his nationality will be the focus of many questions in the aftermath of Saturday’s test match. Many teams now have a number of players who were born outside the country they choose to represent. Quade Cooper was born New Zealand but plays for Australia, in Ireland over the years we have had many players who were capped that were not born in this country and although they may have had a grandparent or parent born in Ireland , they were not born in Ireland and the “ Granny Rule “ was used to great effect by the Irish football team over the years and nobody once complained  about Tony Cascarino , Ray Houghton or Mick Mc Carthy playing for Ireland.

Jonathan Walters a player that many supporters will identify with wasn’t born in Ireland yet he has been taken into the hearts and minds of every Irish football supporter. He wasn’t born in Ireland but people ignore that fact because he plays with his heart in his sleeve for Ireland.

The point I am trying to make is can people please wait until after Saturday to make a judgement on the inclusion of Aki in the Irish side to face South Africa. Yes this rule has its flaws but the IRFU for all its faults did nothing wrong and abided by the rules by letting Joe Schmidt select Bundee Aki in the squad….


Cian Mc Gibney


Ireland’s Big Day Of Sport

My Ireland XV to face South Africa on November 11th at 5.30pm would be:

15 Joey Carbery

14 Andrew Conway

13 Robbie Henshaw

12 Stuart Mc Closkey

11 Keith Earls

10 Jonathan Sexton

9 Conor Murray

8 Jack Conan

7 Sean O Brien

6 Peter O Mahony

5 James Ryan

4 Iain Henderson

3 Tadgh Furlong

2 Rory Best

1 Dave Kilcoyne

16 James Tracy

17 Jack Mc Grath

18 John Ryan

19 Devin Toner

20 CJ Stander

21 Kieran Marmion

22 Bundee Aki

23 Jacob Stockdale

I will now select my 11 to take on Denmark the same evening in Copenhagen in the 1st leg of the World Cup Play off…

Goalkeeper : Darren Randolph

Back 4 :  Cyrus Christie , Shane Duffy , Ciaran Clarke , Stephen Ward

Midfield :  James Mc Clean , Wes Hoolahan , Jeff Hendrick , Robbie Brady

Front Men :  Sean Maguire , Daryl Murphy

On what will be a big day of sport I have tried to guess the two teams that Joe Schmidt and Martin O Neill will send out on different missions to see can they get the desired result….


Cian Mc Gibney