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'There needs to be change at the very top of Irish football' - Townsend says 'boys club' is holding Ireland back

Andy Townsend believes that regime change should be enforced at governing level in Irish football.

Jeff Hendrick and James McClean after full-time on Tuesday at the Aviva Stadium.
Jeff Hendrick and James McClean after full-time on Tuesday at the Aviva Stadium.

FORMER IRELAND INTERNATIONAL Andy Townsend believes that change should come at governing level within Irish football, rather than solely with the current management set-up.

Speaking in the wake of Ireland’s 1-0 defeat at home to Wales on Tuesday, Townsend reflected on the running of football in this country and said that the current poor run of form is the result of deeper issues beneath the surface.

“There needs to be a regime change at the very top of Irish football,” he said speaking on RTÉ 2fm’s Game On. “That is the area that needs to change; the powers that be that run our game here. Clearly there has to be a different mindset coming from those people.

“That will ultimately take time to develop and time to implement. Whether indeed it ever happens, because that is a boys club. It’s a job for the boys that run the game here. If you try to get rid of any of them, you are doing well.

Soccer - International Friendly - Brazil v Republic of Ireland - Emirates Stadium Andy Townsend earned 70 caps for Ireland. Source: Mike Egerton

“All I know is when I look at David Brooks, Harry Wilson, and some of those [players for Wales], it shows there are other nations able to produce and find players.

“There will be some that argue that we don’t integrate them fast enough into the senior team in order to develop them.”

The former midfielder earned 70 caps for Ireland between 1989 and 1997. He added that getting rid of Martin O’Neill as manager would not resolve all of the issues affecting the senior team at the moment.

“That’s not a performance from a team lacking any courage, heart or commitment. They gave everything,” he said. “We don’t have enough at the top end of the field. Honestly, in world football, you have people paid fortunes to make the difference in the top third of the field. That is what usually happens.

Martin O'Neill Ireland manager Martin O'Neill. Source: Morgan Treacy/INPHO

“When we talk about the very best players playing Premier League or international football, the best make the difference.

“We have nothing in that area. With the greatest of respects, we have a lot of guys who are prepared to give their all, effort, but not one of them looks like they have a goal in them.

“If we had something in the top third, we would always have a chance to win more games.

“With this particular group, there isn’t anything there. I hear what is being said but my own opinion is you can change the coach, you can change him every six months, but you’re not going to change those boys into goalscorers.”

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Aaron Gallagher

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