Irish football has been a huge part of my life, and even though experiences have been up and down, I wouldn’t change it for anything. One aspect of Irish football I have always loved over the years is the jersey. There may have been the occasional dodgy kit, but more often than not, they have been both classy and colourful. Here I will go through a variety of my personal favourite Ireland jerseys, and what was achieved by ‘The Boys in Green’ or occasionally white in the various strips.
I’m going to start with a simple but classic one. The 2016/17 Home shirt is a special one for me. The subtle sash style base of the jersey is unique, and a collar on a jersey is one of my favourite features. This jersey also holds great memories of what was a fantastic Summer of 2016. This jersey was worn in the opening game of Euro 2016 against Sweden where we came away with a point, after Ciaran Clarks own goal cancelled out Wes Hoolahans beautiful half volley just after half time. The kit only appeared in the pre Euro 2016 friendlies as well as the Swedish game, Its just a pity that we didn’t see the jersey have more outings.
For my next selection, it would be unfair to discount one in favour of the other, and they are the home and away jerseys from 1990-1992. These gems, sporting OPEL across the front saw the Irish team embark on what would be their most successful campaign at a major tournament. Italia 90 holds a special place in Irish fans memories, but it wasn’t all plain sailing. Three draws in the group stages saw Ireland qualify in second place behind England. Perhaps the best-known victory in Irish football history is the penalty shootout win over Romania in the round of 16. Although the competition did end in heartbreak, it will forever be remembered for that famous save by Packie Bonner and penalty from David O’Leary.
My favourite set of jerseys ever worn by Ireland were the kits sported by ‘The Boys in Green’ at the World Cup at USA 94. This colourful set of Adidas jerseys lit up USA 94 as Ireland emerged from their group with 4 points, tied with Mexico, Italy and Norway, having defeated Italy, lost to Mexico and drawn with Norway. I wish I had been around at the time as I most certainly would have had both of these jerseys in the wardrobe. The away shirt is particularly nice, with the green stripe lined with bright orange, with the tricolour making up the collar. Despite the kits being class, the Netherlands display on the field was classier, and they defeated Ireland 2-0 on the 4th of July in the round of 16. I feel a special shoutout must go to Packie Bonners black, purple and orange jersey with a sort of rectangular pattern. Although it looked more like a sweatshirt than a jersey, it was extremely unique and will go down in the hall of fame.
The 1994-96 away jersey is another one of my favourites. The majority white shirt with a green, white and orange design that stretched to the collar in what was an unorthodox pattern is unique to say the least. The qualifiers for Euro 96 were held towards the end of 1994 and 1995. With 8 qualifying groups, the winner, and the 6 best runners-up would qualify automatically, and the 2 runners-up with the least amount of points would play eachother in a one-off game at a neutral venue to determine who would qualify. Ireland finished second behind Portugal in their group with 17 points, which set up a play-off clash with the Netherlands at Anfield in December 1995. A brace from Patrick Kluivert put Irelands hopes of another successive major to bed. The goalkeeper jersey from 1995-96 is also well deserving of a mention. The purple jersey with ‘FAI’ displayed on the front in orange, yellow and navy is, I would say the most ludicrous of any Irish jersey, but as you can see from this selection, the brighter and more colourful it is, the more I like it.
This is just a selection of some of the jerseys that hold a place in my heart. They are not necessarily the best, or the most uniform, but the ones that I admire, be that for the mad designs or the crazy colour schemes. Unfortunately, I’m sure the days of wacky designs are long gone.