Eire beckons for Town starlets

THE introduction of an All Ireland Football League is likely to pave the way for Ipswich Town players regularly playing in Eire.

Derek Davis

THE introduction of an All Ireland Football League is likely to pave the way for Ipswich Town players regularly playing in Eire.

Blues boss Jim Magilton and Galway United manager Tony Cousins have agreed that they would like to strengthen links between the two clubs leading to Blues players going on loan to the west coast of Ireland club, and Blues getting first choice on buying the Irish club's star players.

An Ipswich XI beat Galway 2-1 in a behind closed doors friendly at Playford Road yesterday afternoon as part of United's week long pre-season trip to the training ground.

It is all part of a process that Magilton would like to see being able to forge a link between the two clubs similar to that which Manchester United have with Belgian side Royal Antwerp.

The proposed All-Ireland league would raise the standard of Irish football to a level where Town would be comfortable sending developing talent across on a loan basis, especially given the current reserve league is not providing competitive football.

Most Read

Magilton said: “There is talk of an all-Ireland league and the standard is getting better. They are getting more coverage and with more coverage come more money put into the game which an only help.

“Having the lads in an environment away from Portman Road and away from the training ground will allow these lads to have an experience of another country and another club set up.

“The west coast of Ireland may not be the footballing hotbed of the world, but if it can spread the Ipswich Town gospel the all the better.

“It is about forming bonds with other clubs. Everything about that suggests we could have a real friendship.

“I would like a club where we can send our kids at one stage and give them an education and Galway provides that.”

Although an All-Ireland League would probably not be fully operational until 2012 Cousins believes a link between Ipswich and Galway will be established well before then.

Cousins said: “It is brilliant to have that bond which can be of mutual benefit.

“Hopefully it is a link we can build and we can produce players good enough to come here.

“An All-Ireland league will put us on a different level so it would be a good league for players here to come and play in.

“We use the ball so they would fit in with a team that tries to play.”

The expansion of Setanta Sports has helped develop football in Ireland and the plans have support from leading clubs both sides of the border, with financial muscle being added by Irish financier Fintan Drury's Platinum One company.