League of Ireland

The League of Ireland (Irish: Sraith na hÉireann), together with the Football Association of Ireland, is one of the two main governing bodies responsible for organising association football in the Republic of Ireland. The term was originally used to refer to a single division league. However today the League of Ireland features five divisions – the Premier Division, the First Division, an U19 Division, an U17 Division, an U15 Division and starting March 2019 an U13 Division. The League of Ireland has always worked closely with the FAI and in 2006 the two bodies formally merged. All the divisions are currently sponsored by Airtricity and as a result the league is also known as the SSE Airtricity League. In 2007, it became one of the first leagues in Europe to introduce a salary cap.[3] The league's most successful club is Shamrock Rovers who have won 17 titles. Together with Dundalk, Bohemians and Shelbourne they are one of four clubs in the league to feature a golden star above their badge in recognition of winning ten titles. Bohemians are the only club in the league to have played every season in the top division.

League of Ireland
CountryRepublic of Ireland (20 teams)
Other club(s) fromNorthern Ireland (1 team)
DivisionsPremier Division
First Division
U19 Division
U17 Division
U15 Division
U13 Division
Domestic cup(s)FAI Cup
President's Cup
League cup(s)League of Ireland Cup
Current championsDundalk
Most championshipsShamrock Rovers (17)
TV partnersRTÉ2 (ROI)
Eir Sport (ROI)
Premier Sports (UK)
FreeSports (UK)[1][2]
2020 League of Ireland


A Division

The League of Ireland was founded in 1921 as a single division known as the A Division. The first season featured eight teams, all from County Dublin. The teams that competed in the first season were Bohemians, Dublin United, Frankfort, Jacobs, Olympia, St. James's Gate, Shelbourne and YMCA.[4][5] The eight founding members had spent the 1920–21 season playing in the Leinster Senior League. Bohemians and Shelbourne had played in the 1919–20 Irish League. St James's Gate were the inaugural champions. Gate also went on to complete a treble having already won both the 1921–22 FAI Cup and 1921–22 Leinster Senior Cup. In 1922–23 the league was expanded to twelve clubs. Among the new members were Shamrock Rovers, who finished as champions, and Athlone Town who became the first team from outside County Dublin to compete in the league. Together with fellow Dublin clubs teams, Bohemians and Shelbourne, Shamrock Rovers would go onto dominate the league during the 1920s and the 1930s.

In 1924–25 Bray Unknowns and Fordsons became the second and third teams from outside County Dublin to join the league. Fordsons also became the first team from Munster to play in the league. The league continued to expand numerically and geographically during its first two decades of existence. In 1926–27 Dundalk were elected to the league and in 1932–33 became the first club from outside County Dublin to win the title. Dundalk were subsequently joined by Waterford in 1930–31, Cork Bohemians in 1932–33, Sligo Rovers in 1934–35 and Limerick F.C. in 1937–38. In 1936–37, Sligo Rovers became the second club from outside County Dublin to win the title.[4][5] During The Emergency/Second World War era Cork United emerged as the league's strongest team. The club won five league titles between 1940–41 and 1945–46, including three in succession. However they subsequently resigned from the league in 1948.[6]

The 1950s was marked by the emergence of St Patrick's Athletic and the re-emergence of Shamrock Rovers. The former succeeded in winning the title at the first attempt in 1951–52 and claimed a further two in the middle of the decade. In 1953–54 the Coad's Colts earned Shamrock Rovers their first title in fifteen years. Drumcondra and Dundalk claimed two League of Ireland titles each during the 1960s but Waterford secured their status as the team of the decade with four league titles, including three in succession between 1967–68 and 1969–70. Six clubs won the League of Ireland title during the 1970s with Waterford, Bohemians and Dundalk winning two titles each. Athlone Town won two league titles at the start of the 1980s but the decade was marked by the four successive league titles won by Shamrock Rovers between 1983–84 and 1986–87. Following the conclusion of the 1984–85 season the league was restructured and the A Division was replaced by the League of Ireland Premier Division.[4][5]

Second level

The League of Ireland first organised a second level division in 1964–65. The B Division featured reserve teams and emerging senior teams. Although there was no relegation and promotion to and from the A Division, a number of B Division teams, including Home Farm, Bray Wanderers, Athlone Town, UCD, Longford Town and Monaghan United, were subsequently elected to the A Division.[7][8] In 1985–86 the B Division was replaced as the second level division by the First Division. The First Division featured first teams and a relegation and promotion system operated with the new Premier Division.[4][9][10]

Third level

Between 2008 and 2011 the FAI organised a short lived national third level league known as the A Championship. Like the earlier the B Division, the A Championship featured a mixture of League of Ireland reserve teams and emerging senior teams. Unlike the B Division, a promotion and relegation system operated between the Premier Division, the First Division and the A Championship.[3][11]

Youth leagues

Since 2000–01 the League of Ireland has organised a youth league. It was originally an under-21 league, later becoming an under-20 league, but is now an U19 league. The winners of the overall competition are awarded the Dr Tony O'Neill Cup.[12][13] In 2015, the League of Ireland also introduced an U17 league.[14][15] An under-15 league was introduced in 2017, beginning with a truncated season, before fully aligning with the League of Ireland calendar in 2018. An under-13 league is planned to start April 2019.[16][17][18]

League of Ireland clubs

2019 Premier Division

Locations of Dublin Premier Division teams
Team Home city/suburb Stadium Capacity
BohemiansPhibsboroughDalymount Park3,400
Cork CityCorkTurners Cross6,900
Derry CityDerryBrandywell3,700
DundalkDundalkOriel Park4,500
Finn HarpsBallybofeyFinn Park4,500
St Patrick's AthleticInchicoreRichmond Park5,350
Shamrock RoversTallaghtTallaght Stadium8,000
ShelbourneDublinTolka Park3,600
Sligo RoversSligoThe Showgrounds4,000

2019 First Division

Locations of Dublin First Division teams
Team Home city/suburb Stadium
Athlone TownAthloneAthlone Town Stadium
CabinteelyCabinteely, DublinStradbrook Road
Bray WanderersBrayCarlisle Grounds
Cobh RamblersCobhSt. Colman's Park
Drogheda UnitedDroghedaUnited Park
Galway UnitedGalwayEamonn Deacy Park
LimerickLimerickMarkets Field
Longford TownLongfordCity Calling Stadium
UCDBelfield, DublinUCD Bowl
WexfordCrossabegFerrycarrig Park

Former League of Ireland clubs

Apart from the current twenty members, at least 39 other clubs have competed in the League of Ireland at one time or another. Some of these clubs are still active, playing in intermediate and junior leagues. The list below only includes teams that played in the A Division, the Premier Division and the First Division.

Team Home town/suburb Home ground Current league
Albert RoversCorkFlower Lodge
Bray UnknownsBrayCarlisle Grounds
BridevilleThe Liberties, DublinRichmond Park
Harold's Cross Stadium
BrooklynMerchants QuayChalgrove Terrace
CorkCorkThe Mardyke
Cork CityCorkThe Mardyke
Cork AlbertsCorkFlower Lodge
Turners Cross
Cork AthleticCorkThe Mardyke
Cork BohemiansCorkTurners Cross
Cork CelticCorkTurners Cross
Cork HiberniansCorkThe Mardyke
Cork UnitedCorkThe Mardyke
DolphinDolphin's BarnDolphin Park
Harold's Cross Stadium
Tolka Park
DrumcondraDrumcondra, DublinTolka ParkLeinster Senior League
Dublin CityFingalvarious
Dublin UnitedDonnybrook, DublinBeech Hill
Anglesea Road
Evergreen UnitedCorkTurners Cross
FordsonsCorkBallinlough Road
FrankfortDrumcondra, DublinRichmond Road
Home FarmWhitehall, DublinTolka ParkLeinster Senior League
JacobsCrumlin, DublinRutland Avenue
Kildare CountyNewbridge, County KildareStation Road
Kilkenny CityKilkennyBuckley Park
Mervue UnitedGalwayFahy's FieldGalway & District League
Midland AthleticWhitehall, DublinThe Thatch
Monaghan UnitedMonaghanGortakeeganDublin Women's Soccer League
NewcastlewestNewcastle WestBallygowan ParkLimerick Desmond League
OlympiaThe Coombe, DublinBellevue Lodge
PioneersDublinStrand Hall
The Thatch
Leinster Senior League
Rathmines AthleticRathminesRathmines Park
Reds UnitedRingsendGlenmalure Park
Salthill DevonSalthillDrom Soccer ParkGalway & District League
St. FrancisThe Liberties/ClondalkinJohn Hyland ParkLeinster Senior League
St. James's GateCrumlin, DublinIveagh GroundsLeinster Senior League
Shelbourne UnitedRingsendBeech Hill
Anglesea Road
Glenmalure Park
Shamrock Rovers BTallaghtTallaght Stadium
Sporting FingalFingalMorton Stadium
Thurles TownThurlesThurles Greyhound StadiumNorth Tipperary District League
TransportBray/Harold's CrossCarlisle Grounds
Harold's Cross Stadium
Leinster Senior League
YMCASandymountYMCA Sports Grounds


List of winners by season

A Division

Season Champions Runners-up Third Place
1921–22 St. James's Gate Bohemians Shelbourne
1922–23 Shamrock Rovers Shelbourne Bohemians
1923–24 Bohemians Shelbourne Jacobs
1924–25 Shamrock Rovers Bohemians Shelbourne
1925–26 Shelbourne Shamrock Rovers Fordsons
1926–27 Shamrock Rovers Shelbourne Bohemians
1927–28 Bohemians Shelbourne Shamrock Rovers
1928–29 Shelbourne Bohemians Shamrock Rovers
1929–30 Bohemians Shelbourne Shamrock Rovers
1930–31 Shelbourne Dundalk Bohemians
1931–32 Shamrock Rovers Cork Waterford
1932–33 Dundalk Shamrock Rovers Shelbourne
1933–34 Bohemians Cork Shamrock Rovers
1934–35 Dolphin St. James's Gate Sligo Rovers
1935–36 Bohemians Dolphin Cork
1936–37 Sligo Rovers Dundalk Waterford
1937–38 Shamrock Rovers Waterford Dundalk
1938–39 Shamrock Rovers Sligo Rovers Dundalk
1939–40 St. James's Gate Shamrock Rovers Sligo Rovers
1940–41 Cork United Waterford Bohemians
1941–42 Cork United Shamrock Rovers Shelbourne
1942–43 Cork United Dundalk Drumcondra
1943–44 Shelbourne Limerick Shamrock Rovers
1944–45 Cork United Limerick Shamrock Rovers
1945–46 Cork United Drumcondra Waterford
1946–47 Shelbourne Drumcondra Shamrock Rovers
1947–48 Drumcondra Dundalk Shelbourne
1948–49 Drumcondra Shelbourne Dundalk
1949–50 Cork Athletic Drumcondra Shelbourne
1950–51 Cork Athletic Sligo Rovers Drumcondra
1951–52 St. Patrick's Athletic Shelbourne Shamrock Rovers
1952–53 Shelbourne Drumcondra Shamrock Rovers
1953–54 Shamrock Rovers Evergreen United Drumcondra
1954–55 St. Patrick's Athletic Waterford Shamrock Rovers
1955–56 St. Patrick's Athletic Shamrock Rovers Waterford
1956–57 Shamrock Rovers Drumcondra Sligo Rovers
1957–58 Drumcondra Shamrock Rovers Evergreen United
1958–59 Shamrock Rovers Evergreen United Waterford
1959–60 Limerick Cork Celtic Shelbourne
1960–61 Drumcondra St. Patrick's Athletic Waterford
1961–62 Shelbourne Cork Celtic Shamrock Rovers
1962–63 Dundalk Waterford Drumcondra
1963–64 Shamrock Rovers Dundalk Limerick
1964–65 Drumcondra Shamrock Rovers Bohemians
1965–66 Waterford Shamrock Rovers Bohemians
1966–67 Dundalk Bohemians Sligo Rovers
1967–68 Waterford Dundalk Cork Celtic
1968–69 Waterford Shamrock Rovers Cork Hibernians
1969–70 Waterford Shamrock Rovers Cork Hibernians
1970–71 Cork Hibernians Shamrock Rovers Waterford
1971–72 Waterford Cork Hibernians Bohemians
1972–73 Waterford Finn Harps Bohemians
1973–74 Cork Celtic Bohemians Cork Hibernians
1974–75 Bohemians Athlone Town Finn Harps
1975–76 Dundalk Finn Harps Waterford
1976–77 Sligo Rovers Bohemians Drogheda United
1977–78 Bohemians Finn Harps Drogheda United
1978–79 Dundalk Bohemians Drogheda United
1979–80 Limerick United Dundalk Athlone Town
1980–81 Athlone Town Dundalk Limerick United
1981–82 Dundalk Shamrock Rovers Bohemians
1982–83 Athlone Town Drogheda United Dundalk
1983–84 Shamrock Rovers Bohemians Athlone Town
1984–85 Shamrock Rovers Bohemians Athlone Town


League of Ireland Premier Division

Season Champions Runners-up Third Place
1985-86 Shamrock Rovers Galway United Dundalk
1986-87 Shamrock Rovers Dundalk Bohemians
1987-88 Dundalk St Patrick's Athletic Bohemians
1988-89 Derry City Dundalk Limerick City
1989-90 St Patrick's Athletic Derry City Dundalk
1990-91 Dundalk Cork City St Patrick's Athletic
1991-92 Shelbourne Derry City Cork City
1992-93 Cork City Bohemians Shelbourne
1993-94 Shamrock Rovers Cork City Galway United
1994-95 Dundalk Derry City Shelbourne
1995-96 St Patrick's Athletic Bohemians Sligo Rovers
1996-97 Derry City Bohemians Shelbourne
1997-98 St Patrick's Athletic Shelbourne Cork City
1998-99 St Patrick's Athletic Cork City Shelbourne
1999-00 Shelbourne Cork City Bohemians
2000-01 Bohemians Shelbourne Cork City
2001-02 Shelbourne Shamrock Rovers St Patrick's Athletic
2002-03 Bohemians Shelbourne Shamrock Rovers
2003 Shelbourne Bohemians Cork City
2004 Shelbourne Cork City Bohemians
2005 Cork City Derry City Shelbourne
2006 Shelbourne Derry City Drogheda United
2007 Drogheda United St Patrick's Athletic Bohemians
2008 Bohemians St Patrick's Athletic Derry City
2009 Bohemians Shamrock Rovers Cork City
2010 Shamrock Rovers Bohemians Sligo Rovers
2011 Shamrock Rovers Sligo Rovers Derry City
2012 Sligo Rovers Drogheda United St Patrick's Athletic
2013 St Patrick’s Athletic Dundalk Sligo Rovers
2014 Dundalk Cork City Sligo Rovers
2015 Dundalk Cork City Shamrock Rovers
2016 Dundalk Cork City Derry City
2017 Cork City Dundalk Shamrock Rovers
2018 Dundalk Cork City Shamrock Rovers
2019 Dundalk Shamrock Rovers Bohemians


List of winners by club

Club Titles Seasons Runners-up Seasons
Shamrock Rovers
1922–23, 1924–25, 1926–27, 1931–32, 1937–38, 1938–39, 1953–54, 1956–57, 1958–59, 1963–64, 1983–84, 1984–85, 1985–86, 1986–87, 1993–94, 2010, 2011
1925-26, 1932-33, 1939-40, 1941-42, 1955-56, 1957-58, 1964-65, 1965-66, 1968-69, 1969-70, 1970-71, 1981-82, 2001-02, 2019.
1932–33, 1962–63, 1966–67, 1975–76, 1978–79, 1981–82, 1987–88, 1990–91, 1994–95, 2014, 2015, 2016, 2018, 2019
1930-31, 1936-37, 1942-43, 1947-48, 1963-64, 1967-68, 1979-80, 1980-81, 1986-87, 1988-89, 2013, 2017
1925–26, 1928–29, 1930–31, 1943–44, 1946–47, 1952–53, 1961–62, 1991–92, 1999–2000, 2001-02, 2003, 2004, 2006
1922-23, 1923-24, 1926-27, 1927-28, 1929-30, 1948-49, 1951-52, 1997-98, 2002-03
1923–24, 1927–28, 1929–30, 1933–34, 1935–36, 1974–75, 1977–78, 2000–01, 2002–03, 2008, 2009
1921-22, 1924-25, 1928-29, 1966-67, 1973-74, 1976-77, 1978-79, 1983-84, 1984-85, 1992-93, 1995-96, 1996-97, 2003, 2010
St Patrick's Athletic
1951–52, 1954–55, 1955–56, 1989–90, 1995–96, 1997–98, 1998–99, 2013
1960-61, 1987-88, 2007, 2008
1965–66, 1967–68, 1968–69, 1969–70, 1971–72, 1972–73
1937-38, 1940-41, 1954-55, 1962-63
1947–48, 1948–49, 1957–58, 1960–61, 1964–65
1945-46, 1946-47, 1949-50, 1952-53, 1956-57
Cork United
1940–41, 1941–42, 1942–43, 1944–45, 1945–46
Cork City
1992–93, 2005, 2017
1990-91, 1993-94, 1998-99, 1999-2000, 2004, 2014, 2015, 2016, 2018
Sligo Rovers
1936–37, 1976–77, 2012
1938-39, 1950-51, 2011
Derry City
1988–89, 1996–97
1989-90, 1991-92, 1994-95, 2005, 2006
1959–60, 1979–80
1943-44, 1944-45
St James's Gate
1921–22, 1939–40
Athlone Town
1980–81, 1982–83
Cork Athletic
1949–50, 1950–51
Cork Celtic
1953-54, 1958-59, 1959-60, 1961-62
Drogheda United
1982-83, 2012
Cork Hibernians
Finn Harps
1972-73, 1975-76, 1977-78
1931-32, 1933-34
Galway United

Media coverage

League of Ireland games are broadcast by both RTÉ and Eir Sport. In 2014 it was announced that RTÉ will show 78 live Premier Division and FAI Cup games as part of a new agreement with the FAI. The agreement expires in November 2018. RTÉ also broadcast a highlights show, Soccer Republic, throughout the season.[19][20][21][22] In 2015 the FAI agreed a deal with TrackChamp to stream all Premier Division and First Division outside Ireland - though customers criticised this as they had to sign up for a betting account first.[23]

European Record

UEFA Champions League

1QR/2QR/3QR = First/Second/Third qualifying round; PO = Playoff

UEFA Europa League

1QR/2QR/3QR = First/Second/Third qualifying round; PO = Playoff; Group = Group stage

See also


  1. "About FreeSports". FreeSports. 28 August 2017. Retrieved 28 August 2017.
  2. "FreeSports Football". FreeSports. 25 August 2017. Retrieved 28 August 2017.
  3. Ahern, Neil (1 June 2010). "All clubs back FAI's league role". www.independent.ie. Retrieved 1 June 2010.
  4. Graham, Alex. Football in the Republic of Ireland a Statistical Record 1921–2005. Soccer Books Limited. ISBN 1-86223-135-4.
  5. "(Republic of) Ireland League Tables". www.rsssf.com. Archived from the original on 21 February 2008. Retrieved 6 July 2016.
  6. "The Rise of Cork United". www.corkpastandpresent.ie. Retrieved 26 September 2016.
  7. "To B or not to be" Brian Quigley's thoughts on the League of Ireland B Division". leagueofireland.ie. Retrieved 6 September 2016.
  8. Lynch, Frank (1991). A History of Athlone Town F.C: The First 101 Years. Athlone: Arcadia.
  9. "(Republic of) Ireland League Tables – Second Level". www.rsssf.com. Archived from the original on 3 June 2009. Retrieved 10 July 2016.
  10. "What Happens (To) Teams That Enter The League Of Ireland First Division?". www.balls.ie. 20 February 2015. Retrieved 26 March 2016.
  11. "Ireland 2008". www.rsssf.com. Retrieved 25 July 2016.
  12. "Roll of Honour". loi19.com. Retrieved 15 September 2016.
  13. "List of Winners". foot.ie. 17 November 2009. Retrieved 16 September 2016.
  14. "New Under-17 league". www.wexfordpeople.ie. 19 May 2015. Retrieved 7 September 2016.
  15. "FAI unveil new U17 league format". extratime.ie. 16 May 2015. Retrieved 27 September 2016.
  16. ""The future for the League of Ireland is to have academies" according to Ruud Dokter". Newtalk Off the Ball. newstalk.com. Retrieved 28 September 2016.
  17. "'Ruud Dokter must be strong and stick to the mantra 'the best, with the best, against the best". The 42. the42.ie. Retrieved 28 September 2016.
  18. "Vacancy: Under-15 head coach". Sligo Rovers official website. sligorovers.com. Retrieved 28 September 2016.
  19. "RTÉ and FAI announce 78-game TV deal". www.rte.ie. 29 August 2014.
  20. "Soccer Republic programme kicks off on 10 March". www.rte.ie. 26 February 2014.
  21. "eir Sport set to broadcast the Dublin Derby between Shamrock Rovers and Bohemians". www.sseairtricityleague.ie. 8 July 2016. Retrieved 28 September 2016.
  22. "Soccer on eir Sport". www.eirsport.ie. Retrieved 28 September 2016.
  23. https://www.the42.ie/league-of-ireland-streaming-service-4696862-Jun2019/
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