One of Manchester United’s reserve players, Darron Gibson, scored a couple of goals on Tuesday night, in a competition which gives clubs a chance to deploy their second string. The Old Trafford side were lucky enough to be playing a team famed for its gutlessness.
Gibson is known chiefly for his decision to desert the Northern Ireland youth setup in order to play for the breakaway association in the Irish republic. His decision to snub the original Ireland team has caused an ongoing wrangle between the IFA and the FAI.
Ian Herbert, a football correspondent for the Independent, has picked up a story from the Belfast Telegraph, revealing that former Northern Ireland manager Sammy McIlroy approached the player in order to persuade him to play for his country.
Presumably he was successful. After all, the 14 year old Gibson went on to play for the schoolboy team, representing Northern Ireland in the Victory Shield. However the predatory breakaway association subsequently poached the midfielder.
None of which has anything to do with the Belfast Agreement, despite what Herbert might contend.
Neither FIFA, the IFA nor the FAI were signatories of the Good Friday accord. It does not contain any provisions pertaining to football and the clauses on nationality and identity are irrelevant to the Gibson case. The Republic of Ireland’s institutions were not granted jurisdiction in Northern Ireland.