Glory Issue 4: Republic of Ireland

Glory Issue 4: Republic of Ireland

10.00

When we launched Glory, we envisioned a project that would explore the outer reaches of the football world. Football is a game that’s played and followed in practically every country on Earth, so there are countless stories to be told beyond the lavish riches of the Premier League, the soft-power geopolitics of the World Cup and the entitled uniformity of the Champions League.

We found these stories in the remote Faroe Islands, where fishermen and bus drivers pull on the national shirt to represent their country on the biggest stage. We found them in Kosovo, where a new national football team became symbolic of the region’s fight for recognition. And we found them in Sweden, where a passionate terrace culture harks back to a bygone era.

But for Glory Issue 4, it occurred to us that we needn’t travel far from our own front door to discover a thriving and largely unexplored football culture. The Irish coast is just 300 miles from Glory HQ. But how many football fans in the UK can honestly say they’ve seen League of Ireland game? How many can even name more than a handful of top-flight sides?

The Republic of Ireland has brought us the likes of Roy Keane and Robbie Keane, Denis Irwin and David O’Leary ­– all serial champions and iconic players. Under Martin O’Neill, the national team have become consistent overachievers in Europe and beyond. The Irish women’s team is ranked ahead of Portugal and Argentina. Irish fans continue to bring passion and personality to every international tournament. And each week throughout the season, the League of Ireland Premier Division plays host to the kind of honest, no-frills football many English supporters would kill for in the era of Tunnel Cam, executive boxes and half-and-half scarves.

In 2016, Dundalk F.C. shocked the football establishment by coming a whisker away from qualifying for the Champions League group stage. And in 2020, Ireland will invite the watching world to Dublin for four games of the European Championship. And yet, Irish football remains a closed book to many. The majority of British football fans could tell you more about the Dutch Eredivisie or the Portuguese Primeira Liga than they could about a vibrant football culture taking place just a short ferry hop away. We thought the time was right to pay our neighbours a visit, explore the beautiful Emerald Isle and get under the skin of one of the world’s oldest footballing nations.

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