Republic of Ireland
The exploits of the previous decade proved to be the high-point in Ireland's career on the international stage. Although they did qualify for the FIFA World Cup finals in Korea/Japan, where they enjoyed a tremendous tournament, the team struggled to match the exploits of their predecessors. The relative decline coincided with a switch of kit supplier, ensuring that Ireland's golden period will always be associated with Adidas. In 2007 Lansdowne Road, where Ireland played their home games was closed for redevelopment. Croke Park (pictured left), home of the Gaelic Athletics Association and with a capacity of over 82,000, was the only stadium in Ireland big enough to stage internationals and the GAA temporarily changed its rules to allow both Association Football and Rugby Union internationals to be played there.
After their lengthy association with Adidas, the FAI decided to switch to UK manufacturer Umbro for their new kits. Part of the deal was an arrangement to introduce new kits every year, alternating between home and away outfits, to maximise replica sales. The new home kit featured an unusual curved motif on the front of the shirt in dark green edged with navy. The motif was repeated on the change shirt but in green and orange. Umbro also introduced fashionable generously cut shirts and long shorts.
After failing to qualify for Euro '96, Charlton resigned and was replaced by Mick McCarthy.
Umbro introduced their new home kit in 1996 while the previous change kit was retained, establishing a two-year cycle. The new green shirts were typical of the unorthodox designs that Umbro turned out at the time, complete with complicated shadow motifs woven into the fabric (based on the initials, FAI), a textured and slightly paler green fabric on the torso and complicated trim on the buttoned collar. The green motif that framed the trim on the sleeves, shoulders and shorts repeated the FAI motif.
In 1997 squad numbers were incorporated on the front of the shirts and on the shorts for the first time outside of the World Cup finals. An extravagant new change kit also appeared in orange and navy with complicated trim on the inner sleeve and chest.
Umbro's design for the 1998 home kit dispensed with the contrasting trim of its predecessor in favour of complex detailing on the shirt. The FAI crest was superimposed on a background of vertical stripes in slightly different shades of green. The shorts boasted an asymmetric trim down the right-hand side. For the first time the match details were embroidered onto the shirt, below the squad number.
A new change strip in fashionable all-black was produced but never worn on the pitch. The fine green piping on the front of the shirts and shorts was matched with orange piping on the reverse.
2001 v Estonia
The extravagant designs of the 1990s fell out of favour and Ireland's new home strip was a restrained affair with a very traditional collar reminiscent of those worn by the Irish side during the 1950s. Subtly textured horizontal bands adorned the front of the shirt.
The white away shirts, another welcome nod towards tradition, were complemented by navy shorts. Both were trimmed with distinctive coloured panels, a standard template from Umbro's catalogue. This outfit was also worn with white shorts and in the match with Estonia, the green home stockings.
The FAI signed a new sponsorship deal with the Irish Telecommunications company, Eircom. As before, the sponsor's logo appeared on all replica shirts and in the occasional unofficial match. The FAI crest was also enhanced by the addition of "IRELAND" embroidered underneath.
2001 v Iran
2002 World Cup Finals
2002 WCF Change
2002 WCF v Saudi Arabia
2002 WCF v Spain
Mid-way through the qualifying campaign for the 2002 World Cup finals the kits were replaced. The new home shirt was a standard Umbro template with contrasting reversed seams and was complemented by a white and navy version. The change did the trick but not until Ireland overcame Iran in a play-off to qualify for the World Cup finals for the first time since 1994.
In the run-up to the tournament the blocky font used for squad number was replaced by an altogether more unusual design and a revised version of the change kit was introduced. FIFA regulations required teams playing in the finals to not only avoid clashing colours but also provide a high degree of contrast. This means that if both team normally wear dark shirts, one will have to change to a light shirt even if the colours are quite different and the same applies to shorts and stockings. As a result, Ireland did not use their official change kit during the tournament but played in all-green against Saudi Arabia (who wore white) and adopted green shorts with their white shirts for their final match against Spain (who wore their usual red shirts and dark blue shorts).
The new home shirts was worn for the first time when Ireland visited georgia for a European Championship qualifier. Horizontal pinstripes were combined with a subtle shading effect to create a very modern-looking and unusual shirt. The away kit dispensed with navy blue and revived the popular green shorts with the Irish tricolour cunningly integrated into the overall design.
In order to restore the two-year cycle, Ireland changed their home kit after only one year, introducing an altogether more simple design with a white inset on the inside of each arm and side of the body. An orange and white seam ran from the collar to the shoulder and an elegant new crest and font was introduced. The old away kit was retained but updated with the new crest and font for squad numbers.
In 2005, the new away kit was unveiled, which, while sticking with the tradition of white shirts and green shorts, featured two shades of green in the flashes on the front of the shirt and an unfamiliar dark shade of green was used for the shorts, An examination of the new FAI crest reveals that this novel colour is incorporated along with the familiar emerald green, white and orange.
2007 v Wales
After playing in green stockings for the first few matches in their new home kit, Ireland switched to unfamiliar white. Umbro's design used minimal trim although the tricolour is woven into the collar as a detail. Match details were now embroidered above the FAI crest rather than on the body and the repositioning of Umbro's logo allowed squad numbers to be located on the right breast. The previous change kit was retained until the end of 2007 and then replaced by a standard issue template in the usual white and green with orange and green trim.
For reasons that are unclear, Ireland wore a grey kit when Wales visited Croke Park in 2007.
<Republic of Ireland 1978-1994
Next up in Ireland's two-year cycle for 2008 was a straightforward Umbro outfit with orange and white trim. The new change kit was unveiled early in 2009 ahead of the Spring internationals and was a welcome return to the dark green shorts that last appeared in 2006. Fine green horizontal pinstripes appeared on the front which was also trimmed with dark green panels. The all grey thid kit was introduced in August 2009.
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