Republic of Ireland football league system

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The Republic of Ireland football league system currently consists of 12 levels. Traditionally association football leagues in the Republic of Ireland have been classified as either senior, intermediate or junior. These leagues are effectively national, provincial and county leagues respectively. The two highest level leagues/divisions, the League of Ireland Premier Division and the League of Ireland First Division are both national leagues. Together they make up the League of Ireland. The third level currently consists of three provincial leagues – the Leinster Senior League Senior Division, the Munster Senior League Senior Premier Division and the Ulster Senior League Senior Division. The senior/premier divisions of most county leagues are designated as level seven divisions while their lowest divisions are usually ranked at level twelve.

History[edit]

Top Level[edit]

The original top level league for what is now the Republic of Ireland was the Irish Football League. Founded in 1890, this league is now the Northern Ireland Football League. Before the partition of Ireland, three Dublin clubs – Bohemians, Shelbourne and Tritonville – played in the Irish Football League.[1] The League of Ireland was founded in 1921 and its Premier Division is now the top level division.[2]

Second level[edit]

The two oldest association football leagues in what is now the Republic of Ireland are the Leinster Senior League and the Munster Senior League. The former was founded in 1896 [3] while the latter first appeared in the early 1900s. The Leinster Senior League's jurisdiction included the Greater Dublin Area, the most populated region in the country, and as a result it was effectively a de facto second level league between 1896–97 and 1964–65. In 1964 the League of Ireland formed the first formal national second level division, the League of Ireland B Division.[4] In 1985, following a reorganization, the B Division was replaced as the second level league by the League of Ireland First Division. As part of this reorganization, a promotion and relegation system involving the top two national divisions was introduced for the first time.[5]

Third level[edit]

From 1964–65 until 2008 the Leinster Senior League and the Munster Senior League formed the third level. They were subsequently joined at this level by the Connacht Senior League in 1981 and the Ulster Senior League in 1986. Between 2008 and 2011, the provincial leagues were briefly replaced as the third level by a short lived national third level league known as the A Championship. Following the demise of the A Championship, the provincial leagues regained their third level status.

County leagues[edit]

The majority of the Counties of Ireland have an association football league. The two counties with the largest populationsCounty Dublin and County Cork – both have several active leagues. The senior/premier divisions of most county leagues are designated as level seven divisions while their lowest divisions are usually ranked at level twelve.

Promotion and relegation[edit]

A promotion and relegation system has existed between the League of Ireland Premier Division and the League of Ireland First Division since 1985–86. Between 2008 and 2011, A Championship teams were also eligible for promotion to the First Division. Promotion and relegation systems also operate within the separate provincial league systems. There is no formal promotion and relegation relationship between the provincial leagues and the League of Ireland. However it is not uncommon for provincial level teams to be invited to join the League of Ireland. In 2015, Cabinteely F.C. of the Leinster Senior League were the most recent team to accept an invite.

The current system[edit]

Level

Leagues/Divisions

1

League of Ireland Premier Division

2

League of Ireland First Division

Connacht

Leinster

Munster

Ulster

3

4

No League at this Level

No League at this Level

5

No League at this Level

No League at this Level

6

No League at this Level

No League at this Level

No League at this Level

7–12

Source:[9]

Notes[edit]

  1. ^ Features teams from Dublin
  2. ^ Features teams from the Midlands and bordering counties
  3. ^ Features teams from Dublin

References[edit]

  1. ^ "Northern Ireland - Final League Tables 1890-1998". www.rsssf.com. Retrieved 18 March 2016. 
  2. ^ "Republic of Ireland League Tables". www.rsssf.com. Retrieved 18 March 2016. 
  3. ^ "Welcome to the Leinster Senior Football League". lsl.ie. Retrieved 18 March 2016. 
  4. ^ Lynch, Frank (1991). A History of Athlone Town F.C: The First 101 Years. Athlone: Arcadia. 
  5. ^ Graham, Alex. Football in the Republic of Ireland a Statisical Record 1921-2005. Soccer Books Limited. ISBN 1-86223-135-4. 
  6. ^ "Amateur Football League". www.amateurfootballleague.com. Retrieved 17 March 2016. 
  7. ^ "Combined Counties Football League". ccfl.ie. Retrieved 17 March 2016. 
  8. ^ "United Churches Football League". www.ucfl.ie. Retrieved 17 March 2016. 
  9. ^ "Affiliated Leagues – LFA". www.leinsterfa.ie. Retrieved 20 March 2016. 

See also[edit]