Ferry Rangers Charity Game 2023

On new year’s eve this year, all roads will lead to Ferry Park for the charity game (the chosen charity’s will be revealed at a later date) between some of the current Ferry Rangers 23/24 squad and the old stagers who let’s say played with the club in the early days after the club was established in 1995.

This game is fast becoming an annual event which will hopefully continue well into the future. Other places do charity swims and runs but in Tarbert players both young and old and some not so old dust the cobwebs off the boots and return to action to relieve their own glory days.

It will be a chance for people to catch up and get ready for that evening which will see a new year roll in. The past two editions have drawn good crowds and hopefully the 2023 version will do the same today week…

The old stagers won last year and the buzz word already is that the current Ferry side has revenge in mind and will do what it takes to take victory. So with that in mind be prepared to see some hard tackles and no less skill on show !!

It will be good to see in particular the Old Stagers take to the field to see do they still have it. Over the past few turns those who wore the red and black of Ferry Rangers in the early days have shown there metel and won the day.

As the week progresses we will know the respective squads and I am sure there will be a few surprises but this author will be staying retired having played for Ferry up to Youths level, my body and my eye sight are not what they once were.

I’d like to take this opportunity to wish Ferry Rangers well with firstly the Christmas draw on December 29thand then on the New Year’s eve it full steam ahead for the charity game. Keep an eye out for the details of the chosen charities and squads on social media…..

FAI – Stick or Twist

It is time for the FAI to make up their minds, will they stick with Stephen Kenny although the smart money does suggest that tonight’s game against New Zealand will bring the curtain down on the Stephen Kenny era.

It has been an extremely disappointing campaign that has put the Republic under severe pressure and with season ticket renewals ongoing it will be interesting to see will people put the money into securing the tickets for 2024 that will of course only see competitive action return in September of 2024 when the nations league starts after next season’s European Championships.

That will be a tough sell but like always the diehards will dip into the pocket and its then down to those on the fence about a ticket that they will need to convince, the “casual fan”. The tenure under Stephen Kenny has seen a new generation of players come through backboned by the under 21 side Kenny coached before being handed the big job.

Josh Cullen, Jason Molumby, Dara O Shea are three players that have been brought into the side with men like Will Smallbone and Adam Idah and latterly Evan Ferguson whose presence seems to instilled a small amount of belief in this group. Ferguson has been bang in form when playing for Brighton in the Premier League under Roberto De Zerbi.

Tonight is a final chance for fans to see James Mc Clean in a green shirt one last time as will win his 103rd and final cap after a debut in March 2013. He has scored a few important goals in that period namely against Wales in Cardiff. He also covered a few positions in his 10 year international career like winger, wing back and full back.

The FAI will need to go away and take their time in selecting the next manager to take the Republic forward in 2024 if it isn’t to be Stephen Kenny… A more important fixture this evening could well be the Under 21 European qualifier in Turners Cross down in Cork. It sees Jim Crawford’s team play Italy looking to redress the balance after Norway last week.

It will provide people will the chance to see the next group of talented youngsters looking to firstly create history and qualify for a major tournament at Under 21 level for the first time and then in the future kick on the represent the senior side.

The FAI Cup final between St Pats and Bohs saw a few of those Under 21s play for either side so you got a chance to see these talented lads. The league of Ireland will provide the players with meaningful game time into the future. Yes it has been the poor relation for many years. A pain that the FAI never quite knew how to set up to keep all sides happy !!

That talk will need to be parked until another time but this evening it’s a chance for two sides to start the healing process, the 21s will need to be on point to gain victory in Cork and likewise on Lansdowne Road the senior side will need to try and gain a small morale boost before this current international window slams shut.

Who you ask will the FAI look to steer the ship if Stephen Kenny’s tenure is ended after tonight’s game. Men like Lee Carsley current England under 21 boss but crucially an ex Ireland international will he look upon this as a project he would like to take on or will it be someone like Gus Poyet who only early last month was questioned would he be interested if the chance presented itself to coach this Ireland side. He did not dismiss the possibility. It will take time and patience to see who the FAI will get in to take the top job. No matter who does get the vote of confidence it will be a tough gig no matter the new person’s CV…

A word for Stephen Kenny if tonight is the be his swansong, he took on the top job with a certain style of play in mind and stuck by those principles which some may see as a step forward but more may say he wasn’t for turning and during his time in charge it was proven when they came unstuck against opposition they should have beaten and then against the likes of France or Holland when caution mixed with some of the new ball playing style may have been warranted.

He stuck rigidly to the way he knows best and that is possession based football which worked while in charge of Bohs, Dundalk in the LOI and then in Scotland with a few teams. Tonight in Dublin 4, it might just be goodbye to Mr Kenny but his work in bringing a number of new players through can’t be forgotten and may benefit the next manager to take on the Republic Of Ireland gig….

Rice Commits to England

Declan Rice has committed his International allegiance to England after many months of a will he won’t he saga. He was capped 3 times by the Republic Of Ireland. He was capped only in International Friendly’s so he was not tied to the Republic because these are seen as non competitive games and for this reason he is eligible to switch allegiance back to England, the country of his birth.

Many people will move to vilify Rice as to why he allowed himself to be capped by the Republic Of Ireland when his heart is now set on continuing his International career with England who are currently managed by Gareth Southgate. This particular decision was a tough one to reach and many of his closest confidants, be they family, friends, team mates and coaches were consulted along the way to him making this choice.

Yes, it will stick in the craw of many that he has turned his back on the green jersey but they are many angles to this story, did he have his head turned by Southgate, did he have a change of heart at one of the training camps he was involved in when involved with the Republic.

We may never really get the full story but let’s be honest, yes he won 3 caps but was he ever really going to be fully committed to a country that he would have only spent shorts periods of time in with parents.

Mick Mc Carthy would have done his utmost to get Declan Rice to commit his lot with the Republic but the pull of the country of birth probably proved too much. It is huge blow for every person that did work to get Rice involved from under 16 level up to under 21 level.  It is a real quandary for countries like Ireland who in some cases depend on guys with parents or grandparents from the Republic of Ireland but who left for pastures new in search of work and other opportunities.

This situation has benefitted the Republic Of Ireland in the past with men like Mick Mc Carthy himself, Ray Houghton and Andy Townsend all born elsewhere but declaring to play in green through the 80s and 90s. This rule was used impressively by Jack Charlton to bring many guys over his tenure in charge. Although we are in different times now than we were back then, we qualified for 3 out of the 5 tournaments in his time at the helm, two World Cups and Euro 88.

What I am saying is times have changed and the Republic Of Ireland may not be the most attractive of places to place International football like it was while Charlton was in charge.

Declan Rice has chosen to commit to England and we will just have to wait and see will his decision be proven correct. He has committed to them but that does not mean he will automatically be selected by Gareth Southgate.

He may have had some assurances by the FA and Southgate’s staff that his name is currently in the mix but that list is long and winding. Just ask Jack Grelish who made a similar move a few years ago. The circumstances are different but the situation is the same.

The FAI has had to deal with this before and now on the back of this decision will look to UEFA ,and FIFA to clear up the ongoing quandary of this will he /won’t he saga. The impetus will be on their shoulders to make some sort of move to at least show up the unease of this situation and the impact it has.

I think the FAI will still have questions to answer but all in all, this decision was made by Declan Rice and a team of advisors. Whatever the reasoning for it, it will have to be respected and all in Ireland along with the FAI will have to respect it however hard that pill will be to swallow.

All parties can move on from this episode and both sides will hopefully learn from it and both the FA and FAI will be in a position to go to UEFA and FIFA and try and close this loophole so it will not happen again to other nations…

Jack Byrne – Rover Returns

The name Jack Byrne won’t mean much to many but he has today signed a deal with Shamrock Rovers to come home from the Scottish Premiership side Kilmarnock after a short spell with them following on from spells with Oldham , Blackburn Rovers , Cambuur in Holland and of course his time with Manchester City.

He has also a number of caps at Under 21 level with Ireland and has spent time with the senior squad. But things just haven’t worked out for Jack in recent times so one feels the decision to come home and spend a season with Shamrock Rovers isn’t the worst move. It will bring much needed media coverage to the League of Ireland, will strengthen the Rovers squad that will next year hope to challenge champions Dundalk for the title.

It is shot in the arm for a league that is crying out for more investment and better facilities for certain clubs. Also a full season where one team or another doesn’t get into financial difficulty would not hurt either. The prize money on offer to the winner of the league is very poor and will really need to be looked at in the next few months before the new season kicks off next March.

While most people will immediately say the league is poor and I wouldn’t go and  watch the teams involved , let’s just give the league a chance and hopefully the move from Jack Byrne to come home and start again at the age of 22 is a shrewd move on his part. While at home he can try and stamp his authority on a side for more than a few games and see can he put all this promise to good use !!

With Mick Mc Carthy now in charge of the National side to be followed by Stephen Kenny, the league needs to put its best foot forward while Mick is in charge to make it next to impossible for him to ignore the league like the last two men who were in charge of the National side.

Could Jack Byrne be in a position if he puts his head down to get into the senior national side with consistent performances for Rovers and be the first League Of Ireland based player since Glen Crowe to get capped at senior level.

Time now for Jack Byrne and more like him to step up and make the League Of  Ireland great again…..


Euro 2020 Draw

Euro 2020 Draw

So the great and the good of European Football all arrived in the Convention Centre Dublin for the draw for qualifying for Euro 2020 with both Northern Ireland and the Republic Of Ireland in Pot 3 where they could have been drawn with some of Europe’s best sides. Both teams will have differing feelings in the aftermath of the draw where Northern Ireland were paired with Holland, Estonia, Germany and Belarus. A group of death for Michael O Neill’s men but a challenge he is looking forward to none the less.

For Mick Mc Carthy whose second coming as the Republic Of Ireland manager was confirmed earlier this week after Martin O Neill and Roy Keane were relieved of their duties will be pleased as it looked as if Ireland would be drawn alongside Germany and Holland but as only two host nations can be in the same group so the Republic of Ireland were moved from one Group to another and Northern Ireland were put into the group with Holland and Germany.

Mick Mc Carthy will be thankful that his side were removed from that group and they are in a group with Switzerland, Denmark, Georgia and Gibraltar. All those sides are familiar opponents to Ireland over the last few qualifying campaigns.

Given the results throughout 2018, this campaign which begins next March will give Mick Mc Carthy the chance to see can he revive the faltering fortunes of the national side. It has been a tough 12 months for the team and let’s hope that the change in management will see and upturn in fortunes and with Stephen Kenny in charge at Under 21 level, let’s hope to see more co operation and more young players step up to senior level from Under 21 level.

We will have to wait and see how the group will pan out from March 2019 and see can Ireland make Euro 2020 when Dublin will host 4 games in the Aviva Stadium. The slate is clean now and all players will have to impress Mc Carthy and Terry Connor in club colours before next March.

O Neill / Keane Era Ends

O ‘Neill / Keane Era Ends

So the Martin O Neill / Roy Keane tenure as the Republic Of Ireland management team has ended after 5 years and 1 appearance at the 2016 European Championships. For around 4 years of their tenure everything was go very well and although after the 2016 European Championships where Ireland played some very open football and achieved some good results defeating Italy after a draw with Sweden and although Belgium comfortably beat Ireland , Ireland went into the next round to play hosts France and were beaten 3-1.

Things have gradually gone downhill. Openly questioning the ability of some of his players in public, never a smart move in any sporting organisation, looking to his assistant Roy Keane who came on board but seemly offered very little in the tactical approach of this Irish team.

Martin O Neill has had a strained relationship with the media in his 5 years at the helm , having a few set two’s with RTE correspondent  Tony O Donoghue after a few games and not liking the fact his style of play was being questioned. He has had a few issues in recent times, like the situation with Declan Rice and Michael Obafemi who won his 1st cap on Monday evening against Denmark in Arhus.

Looking to the positives from his 5 year tenure, an appearance a major Championship has to be seen as a positive. The failure to make the World Cup will be seen as a black mark on the O Neill / Keane copybook. The distinct lack of a real playing style will also be viewed as a issue that dogged the 5 year tenure.

Since the 5-1 defeat to Denmark the change in formation to a 3-5-2 from the rigid 4-4-2 style he adopted in his first three years in charge smacked of desperation and yes Ireland do not possess the technical players that the likes of Spain and Germany have produced in the last 10 to 15 years but we do have players who are willing to work hard and if allowed they can pass the ball from A to B also. Not rocket science in the modern game.

The main issue for the FAI will now be who to put in charge before next March when qualification for Euro 2020 begins. Some are saying Mick Mc Carthy who left the job after the 2002 World Cup, Stephen Kenny’s name has also been mentioned but the fact he has only managed in the League Of Ireland and a short spell in Scotland may count against him although his achievements with Dundalk in the last few years cannot have escaped the notice of the FAI.

A man like Chris Houghton who currently is in charge at Brighton might just be a bold but popular choice with players and supporters alike. He has done good work as a coach and manager and has also played 57 times for Ireland always a handy bartering tool to have when it comes to negotiations.

Others like Brendan Rodgers, Neil Lennon and a few more names will be included before the FAI make a formal announcement whenever they see fit. Like the IRFU if Joe Schmidt was to indicate he is leaving after the 2019 World Cup , the FAI cannot rush this decision and will need to tread carefully in there interview process.

The FAI also need to come up with a plan of how it plans to work and function over the next few years so the grassroots understands what is required of the next generation of players coming through.

The issues of player eligibility need to be addressed also, we don’t need another Declan Rice situation although I suspect we may have a few more similar scenarios before it all gets ironed out. FIFA also needs to pull its socks up and really clear up this gray area for all nations not just Ireland.

The FAI has a big decision to make in the next few months, so John Delaney and the FAI Board need there thinking caps on and make the correct call for the good of Irish Football…..

Wales 4-1 Ireland – Nations League

Wales 4-1 Ireland

The UEFA Nations League started last night for Ireland and Wales in Cardiff, Ryan Giggs managed Wales in a first competitive match after playing in a Tournament in China over the summer. Wales for their part may have had revenge in mind although that particular notion was dismissed quickly in the build up to last night’s game.

For Martin O Neill and Roy Keane, the game was a welcome distraction after a week of off field issues dominated the build up with players withdrawing for varying reasons and a number of key strikers in particular missing out through injury. Men like Shane Long, Scott Hogan, Sean Maguire were all marked absent last night which saw Jonathan Walters who recently rejoined Ipswich Town on loan from Burnley lead the line. He is 35 now. You were asking him to lead the line against a side that had youth in abundance in their 11 last night.

The four goals were of real quality but the Irish defence was very poor on each occasion , in particular for the Gareth Bale goal , where Ben Davies sprayed a cross field ball into the path of Gareth Bale who in turn turned inside and fired past a despairing dive from Darren Randolph. The back four had three Premier league based players, Shane Duffy of Brighton, Ciaran Clarke of Newcastle United, Stephen Ward of Burnley with Cyrus Christie of Derby County.

Injuries are again causing issues with team selections, but the performance last night was one of the worst from an Irish team in recent years. Yes they were players missing but again a lack of ideas along with some shambolic defending will have people again questioning why Roy Keane and Steve Guppy are in Martin O Neill’s back room team. They seem to be just sitting on the bench and every so often offering ideas to O ‘Neill at certain points of a game.

The performance last night was very poor and players in my humble opinion can’t keep coming out in the aftermath of a game and saying we must try and do better but yet again we can’t even keep possession when we have the ball and the players just look devoid of ideas and they don’t seem to be getting much helping in coaching terms.

Up to a few months ago one could say we were water tight at the back and with that situation you can try and move from there but now having conceding four goals last night inside 55 minutes without troubling Wayne Hennessey at the other end the Irish squad and management have plenty to work on when they face Poland next Tuesday before facing Wales and Denmark next month in the Nations League.

There doesn’t seem to be any sort of appetite from the FAI to try and start to solve the many issues that are surrounding the Irish National side. They do not seem to play in a particular style or seem to understand how to defend after two extremely poor performances where they have conceded 9 goals in two games.

Straight away, the first thing that will be mentioned would be to replace O Neill and put someone in place that will get the players playing with style but these issues go deeper and will really need to be addressed from the FAI down. It will take some tough decisions from the FAI and like most long term projects, this issue will take time and patience to solve. They are two things that most supporters in any sport do not have as we live in the era of instant success or else.

We have been here before and knowing the way things have worked in recent times we are likely to be here again in the future as the FAI are highly unlikely to take any drastic action in the short term but drastic action is what is required at all levels.

People can continue to give out we do not have the same quality of player as we had in the 80s or 90s , those days are long gone and people really need to move into the 21st century. Yes we are struggling currently but with the correct action plan, the good days could return over the next 5 to 10 years.

Starting again with all underage sides get them playing a certain style and then get all underage sides to adopt the same or similar style and with that small change we could see some positive results in the short term into the long term.

For now though for the squad, it’s time to focus on Poland and move from there…..


Cian Mc Gibney


Irish Eligibility

Irish Eligibility

So we have here again after 3 senior caps in non competitive friendlies , Declan Rice the West Ham player who has been capped at each level by the Republic Of Ireland since Under 16 level and is now in the words of Martin O Neill  “ Deliberating his international future” after some overtures from England , the country of his birth.

It’s a funny thing of course given that England finish fourth at this Summer’s World Cup and hey presto we are back talking about another player who doesn’t know where his loyalty lies. From Declan Rice’s perspective he has amble time to say no thanks to the Republic Of Ireland an work to gain selection for England but after 3 caps in three friendlies his debut in March and two caps in May.

Now conveniently, he is deliberating his future. He should not have the choice at this point to decide where his International career lies. The FAI have been here before with Jack Grelish , but at least he declined a call up in the hope of a call up by England.

Here we are again on the eve of the Nations League starting up and the focus in the aftermath of a squad announcement we are back talking about a player that is questioning his commitment to the cause. He can of course still turn out for England as his three caps came in three friendlies at not in a World Cup qualifier in that case his eligibility would not be in question.

This situation is happening far too often, with Liam Kelly the full back and Jack Grelish both declining call ups and the slight difference being that Rice has 3 caps. What do the FAI do in this situation, do they just cut him adrift, or do they wait for his decision or do they be bold and call him up anyway and force his hand either way.

The FAI and Martin O Neill need to do what is best for the squad as a whole and cannot be held to ransom by a player who may or may not turn out in the green of Ireland again, the jersey is supposed to be hard earned and cherished by the player in possession of said jersey.

Why Declan Rice didn’t just decline a call up earlier this year is a mystery if he felt so strongly drawn to pulling on an England jersey. Yes he is only 19 with still to be proven talent on a consistent basis. He will get plenty of stick from people over this situation and will need those who advise him to be very clear in how they handle this situation.

FIFA and UEFA need to clear up these rules and make it very clear to any player that if you represent a country in a friendly then that will tie you to that country in a competitive fixtures aswell and not have this grey area where you be capped in a friendly and still change allegiance afterward.

For now though it is important to focus on the squad that was selected for the Welsh game and the preparations for that game on September 8th. It is important we start the Nations League in the correct manner…..


Cian Mc Gibney


England – World Cup 2018

England – Is Football Truly About To Come Home ??

England face Croatia this evening in Moscow in the 2nd World Cup Semi Final for the right to take on France this Sunday. France defeated Belgium 1-0 in the opening Semi Final last night. Since this World Cup has started we have heard that this England team is different under the stewardship of Gareth Southgate who took over from Sam Allardyce in late 2016.

Southgate to his credit has set his stall out and sent out England play a certain way with the ability to change on the field of play. They will set out this evening in a 3-5-2 set up with Harry Kane leading the line with Jesse Lingard and Raheem Sterling in support. This team has used their strength at the set piece to great credit with John Stones, Harry  Maguire and Harry Kane making the most of the chances that have been created and getting in on the act scoring vital goals no more than the opener last weekend against Sweden where Harry Maguire popped up to open the scoring.

Over the last 28 years , arguably better England squads have gone to major Championships and come home sooner than expected but this group to their eternal credit have surpassed even their own expectations and are one step away from a World Cup Final , a first for England since the win on home soil in 1966.

So much has been made of the fact that England are now one step from sporting immortality as this group could join only one other group of English footballers by winning the World Cup. But first they have the small matter of beating a Croatian side looking to create their own history. Not since the Semi Final at France 98 has a Croatian team been this far at a World Cup.

The midfield trio of Luka Modric , Ivan Rakitic and Anton Rebic will have a huge say and the England trio will need to be a full tilt to take on this much vaunted midfield. Two of the three have Champions League winner’s medals in recent years with Real Madrid and Barcelona. Luka Modric to his great credit has turned himself into one of the finest midfielders of recent times.

With a win over England this evening he will give himself a shot at taking on a new kid on the block in Kylian Mbappe in a World Cup Final. If that is to come to pass his team mates will need to put in a huge shift to help get past a teak tough England side that has seemingly washed away every tag associated with English football since that win in 1966.

Winning a penalty shoot out at this World Cup was a huge monkey off the back of every player, when Eric Dier stepped up and fired his penalty past Columbian keeper David Ospina this World Cup adventure has gone into overdrive.

To me though all the usual talk that surrounds an England World Cup campaign has been overshadowed by some outstanding displays on the field of play. Maybe just maybe 2018 could finally be the year when England really does get to say “ Football Truly Has Come Home “ Before then they face Croatia over 90 minutes at the very least for a place in Sunday’s World Cup Final in Moscow…


Cian Mc Gibney