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League of Ireland Women's Premier Division

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League of Ireland Women's Premier Division
First season2023
Country Ireland
Number of teams11
Domestic cup(s)FAI Women's Cup
International cup(s)UEFA Champions League
Current: 2024 Women's Premier Division

The League of Ireland Women's Premier Division (Irish: Príomhroinn na mBan i Sraith na hÉireann, sponsor name SSE Airtricity League Women's Premier Division) is a professional women's association football league in the Republic of Ireland, organised by the League of Ireland, which began play in the 2023 season. The league consists of eleven teams, eight of which owned by clubs with men's teams in the League of Ireland's Premier Division or First Division. The winners of the league qualify for the first round of the UEFA Women's Champions League in the following season.

The Women's Premier Division is the fourth incarnation of a national women's league at the highest level of the Republic of Ireland football league system, and the first fully-professional incarnation. It is the successor to the FAI and FAIW-run Ladies League of Ireland, which ran in two incarnations from 1973 to 1979, and from 1987 to 1989; and Women's National League (Irish: Sraith Náisiúnta na mBan), which ran from 2011 to 2022.


Ladies League of Ireland[edit]

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 (Waterford), 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.[1][2] 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.[3] Evergreen (Kilkenny) withdrew after losing their first three games,[4] although a Kilkenny team did compete in the 1974 season.[5] 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.[6] 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.[7]

By 1979 the Ladies League of Ireland featured seven teams with approximately 120 active players.[8] 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.[9][10][11] Eamonn Darcy, a former manager of the Republic of Ireland women's national football team, served as vice-president of the league.[12] The revived league was sponsored by Hotpoint and Cork Rangers were the 1987 champions.[13] Dublin Castle were the 1988 champions after defeating Greenpark (Limerick) 3–1 in a play-off.[14] However the revived Ladies League of Ireland lasted just three seasons and was abandoned in 1989.[15]

In 1996 there was an unsuccessful attempt to launch a third Ladies League of Ireland.[16][17] Proposed members included a Mayo Ladies League representative team[18] and Longford Strikers.[19] 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.[20] 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.[21] 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[edit]

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.[22][23] The league was launched with financial support from UEFA.[24] 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.[25] 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.[26] The following two seasons, 2012–13 and 2013–14, saw Raheny United finish as league champions.[27][28] 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.[29][30] Footage of the goal was uploaded to the internet by team manager Eileen Gleeson as the matches were not televised.[31] 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[32] with 33% of the vote. In 2014–15 Wexford Youths were league champions and[33] in 2015–16 they retained the title after defeating Shelbourne Ladies in a play-off.[34]

2017: New structure[edit]

In 2016 a shortened transitional season was played from August to December where each team played 14 matches.[35] From 2017 the league was restructured into a summer league, while a possible new team from Sligo entered into talks to join.[36]

The league celebrated its 10th year in 2021 with a new sponsor (SSE Airtricity). This was the first year it shared the same sponsor as the men's League of Ireland.[37]

Expansions, name changes and withdrawals[edit]

DLR Waves joined the league in 2012–13[38] and Galway W.F.C. were added for the 2013–14 season.[39] 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.[40] It was also announced that DLR Waves and UCD's senior women's team would join forces and become known as UCD Waves.[41] Shamrock Rovers also withdrew from the league, leaving seven teams to play each other.[42] In January 2015 the FAI sent out invitations to clubs in an effort to expand the league.[43] This resulted in Kilkenny United W.F.C. joining the league for the 2015–16 season.[44] 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.[45] Before the 2015–16 season was finished Castlebar Celtic withdrew from league because they were unable to field a team.[46][47]

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 decided to expand the 2020 WNL to nine teams. Bohemians' application was successful, while Treaty United's application to enter the WNL in place of Limerick was also accepted.[48] Both teams and Athlone Town joined the WNL for the first time that year.[49] Kilkenny United were excluded for a variety of reasons, including that they had not bonded with the local league, they had changed venues for home games, did not train in Kilkenny, lacked a qualified manager, and had produced poor results (just seven points in the last three seasons combined [60 matches]).[50] In 2022 Sligo Rovers competed for the first time, bringing the league membership up to ten clubs.

[51] While in November 2022 it was announced that Shamrock Rovers W.F.C and Galway United W.F.C would enter for the 2023 season while previously that year it was announced that Galway W.F.C would not participate for 2023 onwards.


Map of the Republic of Ireland with the location of the eleven League of Ireland Women's Premier Division teams labelled
Dublin teams: Bohemian DLR Waves Shelbourne
League of Ireland Women's Premier Division (Ireland)
Locations of teams competing in the 2023 League of Ireland Women's Premier Division.
2023 League of Ireland Women's Premier Division teams
Club Town / City Stadium Capacity
Athlone Town Athlone Athlone Town Stadium 5,000
Bohemian Dublin (Phibsborough) Dalymount Park 4,900
Cork City Cork Turner's Cross 7,485
DLR Waves Dublin (Dún Laoghaire) UCD Bowl 3,000
Galway United Galway Eamonn Deacy Park 5,000
Peamount United Newcastle Greenogue N/A
Shamrock Rovers Tallaght Tallaght Stadium 8,000
Shelbourne Dublin (Drumcondra) Tolka Park 4,400
Sligo Rovers Sligo The Showgrounds 3,873
Treaty United Limerick Markets Field 4,500
Wexford Youths Crossabeg Ferrycarrig Park 2,500


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.[52][53] On 5 March 2019 the ninth season of the Women's National League was launched and Só Hotels unveiled as the new sponsors.[54] In 2020 the League lacked a title sponsor, as Só Hotels did not renew their agreement from the previous season.[55] Barretstown were announced as a "charity partner" on 24 July 2020.[56]

In January 2021 the League attracted a new title sponsor, as SSE Airtricity agreed a two-year renewal of their existing deal with the (men's) League of Ireland and extended it to also cover the WNL.[57] The Bank of Ireland also signed a three-year deal as an associate sponsor of the League of Ireland and WNL.[58]

Period Sponsor Brand
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[59]
2012–13 Raheny United Peamount United Wexford Youths Sara Lawlor (Peamount United) 28[60]
2013–14 Raheny United Peamount United Wexford Youths Stephanie Roche (Peamount United) [61][62]
2014–15 Wexford Youths UCD Waves Raheny United Áine O'Gorman (UCD Waves) 25[63]
2015–16 Wexford Youths Shelbourne UCD Waves Áine O'Gorman (UCD Waves) 17[64]
2016 Shelbourne UCD Waves Peamount United Amber Barrett (Peamount United) 16[65]
2017 Wexford Youths Peamount United Shelbourne Amber Barrett (Peamount United) 16[66]
2018 Wexford Youths Shelbourne Peamount United Amber Barrett (Peamount United) 30[67]
2019 Peamount United Shelbourne Wexford Youths Rianna Jarrett (Wexford Youths) 26
2020 Peamount United Shelbourne Wexford Youths Áine O'Gorman (Peamount United) 14[68]
2021 Shelbourne Peamount United Wexford Youths Áine O'Gorman (Peamount United) 16[69]
2022 Shelbourne Athlone Town Peamount United Áine O'Gorman (Peamount United) 22[70]
2023 Peamount United Shelbourne Shamrock Rovers

Related competitions[edit]

WNL Cup[edit]

Year Winner Result Runner-up Venue
2011–12[26] Peamount United 1–0 Shamrock Rovers Tallaght Stadium
2012–13[71] Peamount United 6–3 Castlebar Celtic Milebush Park, Castlebar
2013–14[72] Wexford Youths 3–0 Castlebar Celtic Ferrycarrig Park[73]
2014–15[74] Raheny United 3–2 (a.e.t.) Peamount United Tolka Park
2015–16[75] Shelbourne 3–2 UCD Waves Richmond Park
2017[76] Shelbourne 1–1 (a.e.t.)
(5–4 pen.)
Peamount United Greenogue
2018[77] Peamount United 2–1 Wexford Youths Ferrycarrig Park
2019[78] Shelbourne 1–0 Wexford Youths Ferrycarrig Park
2020 Deferred due to the COVID-19 pandemic[79]

WNL Shield[edit]

Year Winner Result Runner-up Venue
2015–16 Wexford Youths 1–0[80] Shelbourne Ferrycarrig Park


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External links[edit]