Women's National League (Ireland)
|Number of teams||9|
|Level on pyramid||1|
|Domestic cup(s)||FAI Women's Cup|
|International cup(s)||UEFA Champions League|
|Current champions||Peamount United |
|Most championships||Wexford Youths (4)|
|Current: 2021 Women's National League|
The Women's National League (WNL; Irish: Sraith Náisiúnta na mBan) is the top-level league for women's association football in the Republic of Ireland. It is organised by the Football Association of Ireland and the Women's Football Association of Ireland. The LFAI (Ladies Football Association of Ireland) previously organised a women's national league known as the Ladies League of Ireland or the Woman's League of Ireland during the 1970s and 1980s. The current league was founded in 2011  and the inaugural winners were Peamount United. The winners qualify for the UEFA Women's Champions League.
Ladies League of Ireland
The FAI/WFAI first organised a women's national league in 1973. It was known as the Ladies League of Ireland or the Woman's League of Ireland. Twelve teams were originally invited to participate. These included several teams associated with clubs in the men's League of Ireland such as Dundalk, Finn Harps, Cork Celtic, Limerick and Sligo Rovers. Others included Benfica, Evergreen (Kilkenny), Avengers (Dublin), Cahir Park (Tipperary) and three teams from Galway – Beejays, Happy Wanderers and Wasps. The league started in March 1973 and teams played thirty five minute halves. As the league got started, there were some changes and dropouts. Cahir Park defeated Elms United, a fourth team from Galway, 1–0 at West Park, Galway, in the very first Ladies League of Ireland game on Sunday, March 4, 1973. Evergreen (Kilkenny) withdrew after losing their first three games, although a Kilkenny team did compete in the 1974 season. Benfica played an away game at Finn Harps as part of a double header before a 1972–73 League of Ireland game between Finn Harps and Waterford. Limerick finished the 1973 season as champions after going unbeaten in a fifteen match series. In a post season friendly they lost 3–1 to a touring Stade de Reims at Markets Field.
By 1979 the Ladies League of Ireland featured seven teams with approximately 120 active players. The original Ladies League of Ireland subsequently went into demise but was relaunched in April 1987. This time its members included Cork Rangers, Cork Celtic, Benfica, Greenpark (Limerick) and Dublin Castle and games featured forty minute halves. Eamonn Darcy, a former manager of the Republic of Ireland women's national football team, served as vice-president of the league. The revived league was sponsored by Hotpoint and Cork Rangers were the 1987 champions. Dublin Castle were the 1988 champions after defeating Greenpark (Limerick) 3–1 in a play-off. However the revived Ladies League of Ireland lasted just three seasons and was abandoned in 1989.
In 1996 there was a third unsuccessful attempt to launch a Ladies League of Ireland. Proposed members included a Mayo Ladies League representative team  and Longford Strikers. During the 1990s and 2000s, in the absence of an official national league, the Dublin Women's Soccer League developed into a de facto national league. The Women's Soccer Colleges Association of Ireland (WSCAI) also organised a national league featuring women's teams representing universities and third level colleges from both the Republic of Ireland and Northern Ireland. Both of these leagues featured future members of the Women's National League. Peamount United, Raheny United, Shamrock Rovers and Shelbourne Ladies were all members of the DWSL while UCD fielded teams in both leagues.
Women's National League
The current Women's National League was formed in 2011–12. Originally seven clubs were invited to join the league. These included Peamount United, Castlebar Celtic, Cork Women's F.C., Raheny United, Shamrock Rovers, Wexford Youths and Bray Wanderers/St. Joseph's. The league was launched with financial support from UEFA. Twenty-six clubs had originally applied to join the league before the final seven were chosen. However, due to a lack of playing resources, Bray Wanderers/St Joseph's had to withdraw before the season started. Peamount United were the inaugural league champions, finishing three points clear of second placed Raheny United. Peamount United also completed a league double by winning the WNL Cup, defeating Shamrock Rovers 1–0 in the final. The following two seasons, 2012–13 and 2013–14, saw Raheny United finish as league champions. The league received international publicity in October 2013 when Stephanie Roche scored an acclaimed goal for Peamount United against Wexford Youths which subsequently went viral on YouTube. Footage of the goal was uploaded to the internet by team manager Eileen Gleeson as the matches were not televised. Together with James Rodríguez and Robin van Persie, Roche was subsequently nominated for the 2014 FIFA Puskás Award. At the 2014 FIFA Ballon d'Or awards ceremony on 12 January 2015, Roche finished second to Rodríguez  with 33% of the vote. In 2014–15 Wexford Youths were league champions and  in 2015–16 they retained the title after defeating Shelbourne Ladies in a play-off.
2017: New structure
In 2016 a shortened season was played from August to December where each team played 14 matches. Beginning in 2017 the league will be restructured into a summer league and a possible new team from Sligo is in the talks too.
Expansions, Name Changes and Withdrawals
DLR Waves joined the league in 2012–13  and Galway W.F.C. were added for the 2013–14 season. Before the 2014–15 season Cork Women's F.C. were taken over by FORAS/Cork City F.C. and as a result were renamed Cork City W.F.C.. It was also announced that DLR Waves and UCD's senior women's team would join forces and become known as UCD Waves. Shamrock Rovers also withdrew from the league, leaving seven teams to play each other. In January 2015 the FAI sent out invitations to clubs in an effort to expand the league. This resulted in Kilkenny United W.F.C. joining the league for the 2015–16 season. In 2015 the senior women's team at Raheny United merged with Shelbourne Ladies. This effectively saw Shelbourne Ladies takeover Raheny United's place in the league. Before the 2015–16 season was finished Castlebar Celtic withdrew from league because they were unable to field a team.
In 2018, Limerick joined, bringing the total number back up to eight, however, in December 2019 the club was on the verge of extinction after the examinership process to try to keep their trading company afloat ended unsuccessfully and the club did not receive a licence for the 2020 season.
The Women's National League Committee has taken the decision to expand the 2020 Women's National League (WNL) to nine teams. Bohemians have been accepted to participate in the WNL, while Treaty United's application to enter the WNL in place of Limerick W.F.C. has also been accepted. Both sides join Athlone Town in joining the WNL for the first time this year.
|Team||Home town/suburb||Stadium||2020 finish|
|Athlone Town||Athlone||Athlone Town Stadium||7th|
|Bohemians||Dublin (Coolock)||Oscar Traynor Centre||9th|
|Cork City||Cork||Turners Cross||4th|
|Galway||Galway||Eamonn Deacy Park||5th|
|Treaty United||Limerick||Markets Field||8th|
|Peamount United||Dublin (Newcastle)||Greenogue||1st|
|Shelbourne||Dublin (Drumcondra)||Tolka Park||2nd|
|DLR Waves||Dublin (Belfield)||UCD Bowl||6th|
|Wexford Youths||Crossabeg||Ferrycarrig Park||3rd|
League member Former member Future member
Between 2011–12 and the end of the 2013–14 season the league was sponsored by Bus Éireann. On 20 August 2014, at the Aviva Stadium, Continental Tyres were unveiled as the new title sponsor of the Women's National League and FAI Women's Cup, as part of a wider sponsorship deal for women's association football in the Republic of Ireland. On 5 March 2019 the 9th season of the Women's National League was launched and Só Hotels unveiled as the new sponsors.
|2011–2013||Bus Éireann||Bus Éireann Women's National League|
|2014–2018||Continental Tyres||Continental Tyres Women's National League|
|2019||Só Hotels||Só Hotels Women's National League|
|2020||-||Women's National League|
|2021–||SSE Airtricity||SSE Airtricity Women's National League|
|Year||Winner||Runners-up||Third place||Top scorer||Goals|
|2011–12||Peamount United||Raheny United||Cork Women's F.C.||Stephanie Roche (Peamount United)||24|
|2012–13||Raheny United||Peamount United||Wexford Youths||Sara Lawlor (Peamount United)||28|
|2013–14||Raheny United||Peamount United||Wexford Youths||Stephanie Roche (Peamount United)|||
|2014–15||Wexford Youths||UCD Waves||Raheny United||Áine O'Gorman (UCD Waves)||25|
|2015–16||Wexford Youths||Shelbourne||UCD Waves||Áine O'Gorman (UCD Waves)||17 |
|2016||Shelbourne||UCD Waves||Peamount United||Amber Barrett (Peamount United)||16|
|2017||Wexford Youths||Peamount United||Shelbourne||Amber Barrett (Peamount United)||16|
|2018||Wexford Youths||Shelbourne||Peamount United||Amber Barrett (Peamount United)||30|
|2019||Peamount United||Shelbourne||Wexford Youths||Rianna Jarrett (Wexford Youths)||26|
|2020||Peamount United||Shelbourne||Wexford Youths||Áine O'Gorman (Peamount United)||14|
|2011–12||Peamount United||1–0||Shamrock Rovers||Tallaght Stadium|
|2012–13||Peamount United||6–3||Castlebar Celtic||Milebush Park, Castlebar|
|2013–14||Wexford Youths||3–0||Castlebar Celtic||Ferrycarrig Park|
|2014–15||Raheny United||3–2 (a.e.t.)||Peamount United||Tolka Park|
|2015–16||Shelbourne||3–2||UCD Waves||Richmond Park|
|2018||Peamount United||2–1||Wexford Youths||Ferrycarrig Park|
|2019||Shelbourne||1–0||Wexford Youths||Ferrycarrig Park|
|2020||Deferred due to the COVID-19 pandemic|
|2015–16||Wexford Youths||1–0 ||Shelbourne||Ferrycarrig Park|
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- 2011-12 stats at wnl.fai.ie
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Barrett’s strike was her 16th of the season and seals the golden boot award.
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