FOOTBALL: Jennings relishing new 'home' treat

GOALKEEPING legend Pat Jennings believes the new Carling Nations Cup will revive memories of yesteryear when it kicks off next year.

The competition – which will involve the Republic of Ireland, Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland – was officially launched at the Aviva Stadium in Dublin yesterday.

Leading beer brand Carling will sponsor the event which kicks-off on Tuesday, February 8 2011.

It will be the first senior international tournament hosted in Ireland and will be played in a league format with six matches between the four neighbouring teams.

The first two will take place at the Aviva Stadium on February 8 and 9 with the remaining four taking place the week commencing Monday May 23.

Former Northern Ireland international Jennings – who earned 119 caps for his country – believes the competition will revive memories of the British Home Championship which came to an end in 1984 – ironically Northern Ireland won the last ever running of the cup.

"The Carling Nations Cup is a wonderful idea and a welcome addition to the international footballing calendar," Jennings said.

"It harks back to the good old days of the 'home internationals' which were always very popular with local football fans.

"I'm sure fans of all four competing teams will be excited at the prospect of playing each other in what is a fantastic new stadium."

Irish Football Association Chief Executive Patrick Nelson believes fans will relish the new rivalry between the home nations.

"This is going to be a great tournament for all four Associations and it is one that we are certain the players and fans will really get excited about," he said.

"These are the sort of games that bring fans together to enjoy a feast of football right on our doorstep."

Niall McMullan, Molson Coors Head of Sales for Northern Ireland, added: "At Carling, we are as passionate about the beautiful game as the fans are and we're thrilled to sponsor the inaugural Carling Nations Cup."