Five Things to Know About Ireland

Presented by Thorne

After a 3-0 victory against Bolivia that showcased the USA’s young talent, the U.S. Men’s National Team roster has reassembled for a series of two European friendlies. First up, the red, white and blue take on the Republic of Ireland on June 2.

Here are five things to know about the Boys in Green.


The current Republic of Ireland national team began play in 1924. The Summer Olympics of that year in Paris marked the squad’s first competition as a team distinct from Northern Ireland. For a time, both Northern Ireland and the Republic of Ireland considered themselves as the Irish national team, and controversy brewed as the teams attempted to claim players from all across the island. In the early 1950s, FIFA stepped in to designate the teams’ official names as Northern Ireland and the Republic of Ireland. Soccer is the only sport where the two teams compete this way, as Northern Ireland competes as part of Great Britain in the Olympics and other international events.

While the Boys in Green reached the quarterfinals at that initial Olympic tournament, the Republic of Ireland struggled to make its way into major international competition. That changed under new manager Jack Charlton in 1986, as the Green Army enjoyed some of its greatest successes from the late 80s to the early 2000s. A World Cup champion with England and a decorated player and manager, Charlton led Ireland as it qualified for its first-ever European Championship in 1988 and followed that up with its first-ever World Cup qualification in 1990, the same year that the USA returned to the world stage in over 40 years. Not only did Ireland qualify for both competitions for the first time, they made runs to the quarterfinals at both. Ireland returned to the World Cup in 1994 and 2002, its most recent appearance at the tournament. More recently, Ireland has qualified for the last two European Championships, including a run to the knockout stage in 2016.


The Republic of Ireland hosted its first-ever home match in Dublin against the USA on June 16, 1924, during an American tour of Europe after the Summer Olympics. A 3-1 defeat for the U.S., the match provided the first known footage of the MNT in action.

Since that showdown, the nations have met eight times. The USA is 2-5-2 all-time against the Boys in Green. Ireland participated in the 1992, 1996 and 2000 editions of the U.S. Cup, a friendly tournament hosted by U.S. Soccer from 1992 to 2000. Thomas Dooley and Roy Wegerle, who both represented the USA in the 1994 and 1998 FIFA World Cups, made their MNT debuts in the USA’s lone win against Ireland, a 3-1 victory on May 30, 1992 in Washington, D.C.

Tab Ramos and Eric Wynalda are the USA’s joint leading scorers against the Irish, each contributing two goals.




U.S. Goal Scorers


June 16, 1924

1-3 L

Dublin, Ireland



Oct. 29, 1979

2-3 L

Dublin, Ireland

DiBernardo, Villa


June 1, 1991

1-1 D

Foxborough, Mass.



April 29, 1992

1-4 L

Dublin, Ireland



May 30, 1992

3-1 W

Washington D.C.

Balboa, Harkes, Ramos


June 9, 1996

2-1 W

Foxborough, Mass.



June 6, 2000

1-1 D

Foxborough, Mass.



April 17, 2002

1-2 L

Dublin, Ireland



Nov. 18, 2014

1-4 L

Dublin, Ireland




Ireland failed to qualify for the 2018 FIFA World Cup after a two-leg playoff defeat to Denmark. Drawn into Group D for the first round of UEFA qualifying, Ireland finished second in its six-team group, just two points behind Serbia.

After the group stage, the eight best second-place finishers were drawn into playoff matches to punch their World Cup tickets. Ireland held Denmark to a scoreless draw in Copenhagen and took an early 1-0 lead at the home fixture in Dublin. But just before the first half, the floodgates opened for Denmark, and the Red-White took down Ireland 5-1.

Ireland has played two friendlies since the defeat: a 1-0 loss away to Turkey in March and a 2-0 defeat against the USA’s other June opponent, France, at the Stade de France last week. Saturday’s match marks their first home game since missing out on the World Cup.


While Dave Sarachan’s 25-player U.S. roster has an average of age of 23 years, 102 days and cap number of 7.6, Ireland head coach Martin O’Neill has gathered a slightly more seasoned squad which averages out at 27 years, 37 days and 18.8 caps.  

Notably, the USA match will serve as a send-off game for veteran defender John O’Shea. Known well for his time at Manchester United, the Sunderland defender lined up with MNT right back DeAndre Yedlin at the Stadium of Light in 2015-16 and is the most experienced player on the roster with 118 international appearances. Four players will look to earn their first caps against the U.S., while defender Derrick Williams made his international debut last week against France.

All but two players ply their trade in England across the Premier League, Championship and League One. Two play in the domestic League of Ireland: goalkeeper Shane Supple for Bohemains and forward Graham Burke for Shamrock Rovers.

Ireland Roster (Club; Caps/Goals)
Colin Doyle (Bradford City/ENG; 3/0), Conor O’Malley (Peterborough United/ENG; 0/0), Shane Supple (Bohemians; 0/0)

DEFENDERS (11): Seamus Coleman (Everton/ENG; 45/1), Matt Doherty (Wolverhampton Wanderers/ENG; 2/0), John Egan (Brentford/ENG; 2/0), Shane Duffy (Brighton & Hove Albion/ENG; 19/2), Kevin Long (Burnley/ENG; 6/0), Darragh Lenihan (Blackburn Rovers/ENG; 0/0), Declan Rice (West Ham United/ENG; 2/0), John O’Shea (Sunderland/ENG; 118/3), Enda Stevens (Sheffield United/ENG; 0/0), Derrick Williams (Blackburn Rovers/ENG; 1/0), Greg Cunningham (Preston North End/ENG; 4/0)

MIDFIELDERS (9): Harry Arter (Bournemouth/ENG; 12/0), Alan Browne (Preston North End/ENG; 3/0), Jeff Hendrick (Burnley/ENG; 39/1), Daryl Horgan (Preston North End/ENG; 3/0), James McClean (West Bromwich Albion/ENG; 59/10), David Meyler (Hull City/ENG, 26/0) Callum O’Dowda (Bristol City/ENG, 9/0), Eunan O’Kane (Leeds United/ENG, 7/0), Shaun Williams (Millwall/ENG, 1/0)

FORWARDS (3): Graham Burke (Shamrock Rovers; 1/0), Shane Long (Southampton/ENG; 81/17), Jonathan Walters (Burnley/ENG, 52/14)


Known as “the Emerald Isle” for its lush green fields, Ireland has been inhabited for over 13,000 years. The island is home to some of the largest Stone Age archaeological sites in the world and Hook Lighthouse in County Wexford is the world’s oldest working lighthouse. Its sporting tradition is equally steeped in history. The Tailteann Games were Ireland’s version of the Olympics, and some historians date the competition as far back as 1600 BC, even before the start of the Olympics in Greece.

Similar to rugby, Gaelic football is the most popular sport in Ireland. It composes the Gaelic games alongside hurling, Gaelic handball and rounders. While English is the country’s primary language, Irish, or Gaelic, stands as the first official language.

While the country is known for its rolling greenery, the land wasn’t suitable for many crops until the advent of modern fertilizers and technology. Now ubiquitous with Irish culture, the potato wasn’t introduced to the island until the early 1600s. The national symbol of Ireland is the harp, making it the only country in the world to carry an instrument as its national symbol.