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Intelligent Irish Reaction To Grealish News Reveals What We Should Be Talking About

Gary Reilly
By Gary Reilly
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'Fuck you Jack Grealish, your hair is stupid'.

Yes, in light of the Aston Villa midfielder's decision to play for England, there has been an awful lot of that. And there always was going to be. Nationality is a touchy subject. For some, it's an indelible part of who you are. You're born with Irishness coursing through you're veins or your not. And if you're not then we don't want you anyway.

If only it was that simple. As we've seen before, nationality is not necessarily a fixed point of reference. For someone in Grealish's situation, you can conceivably be caught between Irishness and Englishness.

And even if he is only doing it for the commercial opportunities, then good luck to him, that's the football world that's been created and it's there for him to exploit.

Ireland getting indignant about someone using FIFA's rules to their benefit is all kinds of laughable. In reality there's only one thing that should be said to/about the Villa midfielder.

Our desperation in the situation is understandable but that doesn't make it any better. It's been created by Ireland taking the easy option of farming out our development and while a lot of the Irish reaction to the Grealish news may have been hot-headed nonsense, there has inevitably been some looking towards the real problem.

With that in mind, here's Noel King's latest u21 squad for the games against Lithuania and Italy next month.


Goalkeepers: Danny Rogers (Aberdeen - On loan at Falkirk), Ian Lawlor (Manchester City), Eric Grimes (Leeds United)

Defenders: Brian Lenihan (Hull City), Shane Griffin (Reading), Jack Connors (Dagenham & Redbridge), Sean Kavanagh (Fulham), Sean Long (Reading), Glen Rea (Brighton & Hove Albion - On loan at Southend United), Tommie Hoban (Watford), Darragh Lenihan (Blackburn Rovers)

Midfielders: Josh Cullen (West Ham United), Alan Browne (Preston North End), Jack Byrne (Manchester City - On loan at Cambuur), Callum O'Dowda (Oxford United), Dylan Connolly (Ipswich Town), Kenneth McEvoy (Tottenham Hotspur)


Forwards: Shamir Fenelon (Crawley Town), Reece Grego-Cox (Queens Park Rangers), Sean Maguire (Dundalk), Conor Wilkinson (Barnsley), Sam Byrne (Everton)

There's six players on the books of current Premier League teams. Four of them were born on Irish soil; Ian Lawlor, Jack Byrne, Kenneth McEvoy and Sam Byrne. Tommie Hoban and Josh Cullen are UK born (not that that is necessarily a negative).

We've looked at this in greater detail before but it's worth looking at these figures again. Between 1986 (Big Jack's first game) and 2015, 177 players lined out for Ireland. Here's how they have been broken down in terms of where they were developed, in a footballing and person sense, and where they made their first team debut.

That's a damning indictment on Ireland's ability to produce international level footballers. We keep being told that steps are being made and the FAI's performance director Ruud Dokter certainly talks a good game but judging by the latest u21 squad above the realisation of that is still a long way away.

Having said that, with all the idealism and indignation must come a bit of pragmatism. If Grealish had decided to play for Ireland, it would have been a positive things. The situation is not going to change overnight so if Ireland can convince the likes of Dan Crowley to add a bit of quality to a squad which is noticeably lacking in it then that's what we have to do. There's no point crying if/when it comes back to bite us in the arse though.

Jack Grealish may have kicked sand in Ireland's face when England came along, but we're the ones who lay down for him to do it.

Meanwhile, David O'Doherty's big news has been lost in all the drama. A significant loss we can all agree.


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