Many people support the idea North and South of the border, one supporter of the idea is now the manager of the Republic of Ireland who was born, educated and even played for the country of his birth, Northern Ireland.

What would ever happen if there was a 32 County Football Team, would loyalists in Northern Ireland feel it was a stepping stone to a United Ireland which they oppose as they wish to keep the union with Britain?

Martin O`Neil who was born in Northern Ireland, Co. Derry, is now the manager of the Republic Of Ireland having taken over from Giovanni Trapattoni last year will hope along with assistant Roy Keane to guide the team to Euro 2016 after being placed in a qualifying group with teams such as Scotland, Germany and British Overseas Territory, Gibraltar.

We have in recent times in Ireland seen the development of an All-Island Cup competition named the Setanta Cup, would it therefore, not be possible to use the success of this cup competition and develop it into a single international side integrating players from Northern Ireland and the Republic of Ireland. There is a team from Northern Ireland during "the troubles" were allowed by FIFA to join the league in the south as they were expelled from the Irish League (Northern Ireland) for security reasons that continue to this day to play in the south and that team is Derry City.

It has only happened once before in history since the introduction of partition on Ireland when both Football Associations broke away and formed their own associations the FAI (Football Association of Ireland) in the south and the IFA (Irish Football Association) in the North and subsequently their own leagues, that both nations have played on the same side. In 1973 for a match between  then world champions Brazil under the banner Shamrock Rovers All-Ireland XI at Lansdowne Road in front of 37,000. 

The assembled team, which lost 4-3, featured Martin O'Neill and Pat Jennings from Northern Ireland, together with the likes of John Giles and Don Givens from the south.

Martin O`Neill spoke a few years ago at a 35th Anniversary dinner in honour of the Shamrock Rovers All-Island team that even George Best, one of the greatest footballers to come out of the North who even today in Northern Ireland has a special Fiver with his face on it which was available there when he sadly passed away, supported the idea as he felt it would benefit both nations as they could the best of the best regardless of what side of the border they came from.

O`Neil at the dinner stated, according to the Daily Mail, "George Best would always have cried out for a united Irish team and it would be a phenomenal step," he said. "I certainly think that the political climate has changed greatly since then [1973] and I suppose, if there are possibilities, then you might think in this particular time that there is a possibility [of an All-Ireland team],"

"I don't know even at this particular stage if everyone would want it to happen. But, from a playing point of view, you can imagine what it would be like.

Many people are against the idea also, their reasons may have little to do with football, if this became a reality what would the reaction be? Would it really be received as a step forward for both nations and that it would increase the quality of players available or would their be protests similar to the flag dispute when it was voted that the Union Jack should fly on specific days only over Belfast.

Only time will tell whether this would become a reality given the past but should we not be looking to the future instead?

Write for GiveMeSport! Sign-up to the GMS Writing Academy here:

DISCLAIMER: This article has been written by a member of the GiveMeSport Writing Academy and does not represent the views of or SportsNewMedia. The views and opinions expressed are solely that of the author credited at the top of this article. and SportsNewMedia do not take any responsibility for the content of its contributors.

Do YOU want to write for GiveMeSport? Get started today by signing-up and submitting an article HERE: