The FAI confirmed the end of an era on Friday by announcing that New Balance would be replacing Umbro as the Ireland football team’s kit manufacturer in a deal that will kick in from August.
It seems almost certain then that Ireland’s clash with Austria at the Aviva next month will be the final time that the Boys in Green line out wearing their current kit, with the new shirt fully unveiled and (presumably) on sale by the time Martin O’Neill’s men face Georgia in September.
In the 23 years that Umbro made Ireland’s kits, there were some good, some bad and some outright mental. Below are, what we believe anyway, to be the ten best efforts that they have produced in the two decades or so that they have been manufacturing the Irish shirts.
10. 1997-98 Away
Included primarily for Umbro having the brass balls to kit the Republic of Ireland team out in an orange kit in 1997, the orange jersey will forever be associated with that infamous 3-2 defeat in Macedonia. On an aesthetic level it is genuinely heinous but deserves its place purely for nostalgia purposes.
9. 2001-03 Home
Ireland’s jersey for the 2002 World Cup campaign was a solid effort. Nothing too extravagant, and will forever be remembered for the delirium caused by Robbie Keane scoring a last-minute equaliser against Germany and subsequent 3-0 against Saudi Arabia (with nothing of the unpleasantness that was the opening two Euro 2004 qualifiers that followed).
8. 2008-09 Home
The usual green and white were supplemented with an orange trim for the first half of Ireland’s World Cup 2010 qualification campaign. A risk that paid off, and was one of a solid run of Irish home shirts.
7. 2010-11 Away
Also known as “The Richard Dunne,” such was the notoriety it gained when the defender’s number was drawn on with marker after a swap during a Euro 2012 qualifier in Moscow. It’s not particularly flashy, this kit, but one man’s flashy is another man’s simple and effective.
6. 2003-05 Away
Perhaps just because it as the away alternative to the deeply unpopular hooped home effort of the Euro 2004 qualifiers, nonetheless the change strip was a fine shirt in its own right. The usual white is complemented by the green trim on the shoulders and side, and the collar is a nice touch.
5. 2010-11 Home
The shade of green was different to that which perhaps we were used to, and the the v-neck collar was too big for some people’s tastes, but it worked.
4. 2012 Away
It’s unfortunate that this shirt is associated with Ireland’s shambolic Euro 2012 campaign; it doesn’t deserve that type of baggage. The vertical sash was an interesting idea for Umbro to work into an Ireland shirt, but it was one of the more popular change jerseys during the manufacturer’s tenure.
3. 2004-06 Home
After the pinstriped hoop effort went down like a lead balloon, this was a return to normality somewhat for the Ireland home shirt. Simple green with white and orange trim, with a larger white area under the arms. Safer, and all the better for it.
2. 2016-17 Home
Given the concept, this could have gone horribly wrong. A manufacturer playing fast and loose with the unwritten guidelines of a football shirt can have horrible consequences. However, they got this spot on, from the diagonal stripes to the orange and white collar. Well played, Umbro.
1. 2006-08 Home
On first glance, this may look similar to the shirt that came directly after it, but there are a few subtle differences that combine to make a big change. The slightly higher Umbro logo and the asymmetrical pattern on the collar help to make this a standout effort, sullied only by the fact that it was the kit worn during the thundering disaster that was the Steve Staunton era.
On this week’s episode of the Mixer football podcast, we speak to Bohemians striker Dinny Corcoran on a tense battle for league survival, as well as the usual discussion on all things League of Ireland.