Having fallen to 70th in the FIFA rankings in 2014, the Irish side improved and started the new decade in 34th position.
Under FIFA's rules, players born on the island of Ireland can opt to play for Northern Ireland or the Republic but not both. Furthermore people born in the north can claim citizenship of the Republic even if they have never set foot in it. This has led to some controversy as some players who have represented Northern Ireland at youth level have opted to play for the Republic at senior level. This is largely a reflection of the sectarian nature of Ulster: traditionally those from the Unionist tradition opt to play for Northern Ireland while those from the Catholic, nationalist community prefer to play for the Republic.