08/03/1950 Wrexham Wales 0-0
Hugh Kelly, Gerry Bowler, Bud Aherne, Danny Blanchflower, Con Martin, Reg Ryan, Johnny McKenna, Sammy Smyth, David Walsh, Bobby Brennan, Norman Lockhart
The winds of discontent erupted into open hostility in the 1950-51 season as the Football Association of Ireland and the Irish Football Association came to loggerheads over player selection within the island of Ireland. The situation came to afore when Sean Fallon of Glasgow Celtic refused to represent the IFA side in a match against the British Army. Pressure was applied to other players born within the territory of the Republic of Ireland which eventually led to the last ever senior ‘All Ireland’ football side being selected in 1950 against Wales.
During the match against Wales at the Racecourse Ground, Wrexham, the IFA fielded an all-Ireland team for the last time. The team included four players – Tom Aherne, Reg Ryan, Davy Walsh and the captain Con Martin – who were born in the Irish Free State, and all four of whom had previously played for the FAI international team in their qualifiers and as a result had played for two different associations in the same FIFA World Cup tournament.
The FAI took steps to prevent players from what was now the Republic of Ireland turning out for the IFA’s Ireland team. All UK-based players from the Republic were pressured to sign an undertaking not to play for the IFA. Jackie Carey was the last to comply, in April 1950. Rule 35(b) of the FAI articles provided that players based in the Republic would be denied clearance certificates for transfers abroad unless they gave a similar undertaking. The IFA complained to FIFA; in April 1951, FIFA replied that the FAI rule 35(b) was contrary to its regulations, but also that the IFA team could not select “citizens of Eire”. An exception was for British Home Championship games, as a 1923 IFAB agreement at Liverpool prevented FIFA intervention in relations between the four Home Nations. However, the exception would only apply “if the F.A. of Ireland do not object”, and was never availed of.
IFA and FAI teams both continued to compete as Ireland. At FIFA’s 1953 congress, its Rule 3 was amended so that an international team must use “that title … recognised politically and geographically of the countries or territories”. The FAI initially claimed Rule 3 gave them the right to the name Ireland, but FIFA subsequently ruled neither team could be referred to as Ireland, decreeing that the FAI team be officially designated as the Republic of Ireland, while the IFA team was to become Northern Ireland. The IFA objected and in 1954 was permitted to continue using the name Ireland in Home Internationals, based on the 1923 agreement. This practice was discontinued in the late 1970s.