I have submitted a problem report saying that "The Ireland team won" should also be allowed. I think it is quite common to use the country name when talking about the national team, of some countries at least, in particular, England, Scotland, Ireland & Northern Ireland. eg this quote from gettyimages.co.uk "The Ireland Team Wins The Alfred Dunhill Cup"
A Google search for the exact phrase "the Ireland team" gave 106,000 results; "the England team" gave 478,000 reported results.
Even "the France team", though less frequent, still showed 63,500 results.
And, more specific expressions, such as "the Ireland rugby team", reported several thousand results (13,700 in this instance).
So this kind of expression, using the country name, is not rare and it should not be much of a strain to allow it.
I agree with you. But that being said, I would like to point out that the sports pages are not exactly the hotbed of grammar usage. And as far as Googling virtually anything goes, I am confident that you will find every possible incorrect spelling or usage in astonishing numbers. If you think about it, you will remember that putting something out there on the internet does not require an advanced degree, or even a drug test, so please do not assume that something is correct because you have read it somewhere on the internet. Go Ireland Team!
But the results do not include just twittering tweeters and other social media & blogosphere language assailants, but fairly reputable sources such as the BBC, the Guardian, Irish Times etc.
Even the OED has "the England team's presence" (as well as the similar usage "The England footballers' pre-World Cup training camp") on a page about 2011 updates (discussing the "Rise of the Wag").
I myself do not use social media and am not a follower of sports but the usage still seems quite "natural" to me.
It's just an irregularity. Although Eire doesn't take the article in the nominative, it USUALLY requires the article in the genitive. Usually you see the article omitted in official terms like, "Dail Eireann," "Bus Eireann," "Raidio Telefis Eireann," but "na hEireann" is more common.
Since "Ireland" is a definite noun, the noun it modifies as a genitive (in this case, "foireann") doesn't take the article.