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Carling Nations Cup 11

A competition devised to give the home Celtic nations (England were initially invited but declined to compete) a competitive edge to friendly games along the lines of the previous historical Home International Championship which had run for a hundred years, finishing in 1984. So 27 years later the Celtic Nations Cup was born, a competition that had many titles, Celtic Cup of Nations the grandest but for sponsorship reasons became known as the Carling Nations Cup. As already mentioned it drew its inspiration from the previous Home International (British) Championship, so was played as a round robin tournament between the Celtic nations of the British Isles, Northern Ireland, Republic of Ireland, Scotland and Wales. The Republic of Ireland were selected as the tournaments first host nation and the first set of two games were played in Dublin's new Aviva Stadium (a rebuilt Lansdown Road) in early February.  

The hosts kicked off against Wales, winning comfortably after three second half goals in a 23 minute spell without a Welsh reply, in Gary Speed's first game in charge of Wales. The same score was repeated the following evening, this time Scotland beating N.Ireland.

The remaining four games were played at the end of May 2011, with Gary Speed calling Wales "the poor relations" of the tournament after his team were asked to play twice in 2 days, nobody else had the same tight schedule. The hosts again won handsomely, this time going nap without reply against their Northern neighbours. Wales kicked off the first of their two games in two days with a very young side against Scotland. Playing some decent football they took a first half lead through captain for the evening Robert Earnshaw. Many changes in the second period saw the game become disjointed and the Scots over ran Wales scoring three times without reply. Wales made ten changes for their final game, a battle to avoid the wooden spoon with Northern Ireland. To be fair, the Northern Ireland squad was pretty depleted missing many of their recognised regulars and Wales strolled to their first win under Speed's tenure by two goals to nil. Earnshaw was again on target and the scoring completed by young skipper Aaron Ramsey in front of a hugely disappointing 529 fans. The tournament was overall poorly supported, the blamed for this was aimed at the FAI for the high ticket prices. Two days after Wales victory, the hosts, the Republic of Ireland defeated Scotland 1-0 to clinch the trophy.
  
So the inaugural Carling Nations Cup was won by the Republic of Ireland hosts who won all three of their games without conceding a goal and their Emerald Isle neighbours Northern Ireland finishing bottom of the pile without scoring a goal. Lets hope the initial problems experienced in Dublin can be resolved and the tournament isn't a one off. The next competition is due to be hosted by Wales in 2013, but England could throw a spanner in the works, having expressed an interest in a "one-off" Home International Championships as part of the FA's 150th Anniversary celebration's.

I have listed a number of shirts of both Wales and the opposition from games against Wales, in this section.

Final Carling Nations Cup Table 2011

Team Pld W D L GF GA GD Pts
Rep of Ireland 3 3 0 0 9 0 +9 9
Scotland 3 2 0 1 6 2 +4 6
Wales 3 1 0 2 3 6 −3 3
N.Ireland 3 0 0 3 0 10 −10 0