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League of Ireland – The Greatest League in the World

When I start talking to non-Irish people about the League Of Ireland and what it means to me, I always tell them look up the hashtag on Twitter #GreatestLeagueInTheWorld.

They will see the love and the support it gets from fans from across the island of Ireland and abroad.

The League Of Ireland is not a particularly big league, especially in comparison to some of Europe’s other leagues.

Its Premier Division is made up of 12 teams while the First Division, or the graveyard as it is known as to some fans, consists of only 8 teams.

While at times the football is not of great quality – there are a lot of pointless games during the season, and some of the players playing in the league that could be called rejects who couldn’t make it in England – it is still my league.

It’s where I got my first taste of live football as a young lad cheering on my local team, Sligo Rovers (who once had Everton legend Dixie Dean on their books).

League of Ireland fans are a hardcore bunch.  I would almost call some of them militant when it comes to supporting their team and their league.

While I personally don’t travel to away games with Sligo Rovers, many fans do, making a weekend of it while attending various grounds around the country.

This often costs them hundreds of Euros in travel costs and accommodation, but they are still happy to do that if it means supporting their team and put money in the coffers of the league.

It’s my opinion, and the opinion of many League of Ireland fans, that the governing body, the FAI, don’t really care that much about the league, leaving it to fester and allowing clubs with long histories to go bottom-up.

Meanwhile, those sitting at the top of the FAI are earning massive wages for themselves and doing very little to improve the league and its profile.

The League of Ireland season starts in March and finishes in November with our equivalent of the FA Cup, the FAI Cup.

That means summer football, so I get to support and follow a football team 12 months of the year. Summer football took a wee bit of adjusting to but fans soon took to it and the league hasn’t looked back.

There are no more abandoned games due to unplayable pitches or away games to absolute shit-holes in some parts of the country on a dreary January night.

The summer football also means that the pitches are of decent quality all season long and don’t tend to cut up that much, thus saving clubs’ money. It’s also family friendly, and the brighter evenings tend to bring families through the gates of League of Ireland grounds around the country.

Rather reluctantly, I’ll admit the most famous club in Ireland are Shamrock Rovers.

They are the club that has won the most trophies in the League’s history and even featured in the group stages of the Europa League a few years back, even playing against Premier League side Tottenham Hotspur.

They lost both games.

Although they’re not doing as well recently, having not won the Premier Division title for a number of years, and they’re still the club every player wants to play for, including ex-Ireland international players Damien Duff and Keith Fahy.

Currently, the top two clubs in the league are Dundalk FC and Cork City.

Dundalk have won the league in the last 2 seasons and are on course to win it for a third season in a row.

Cork are the only team at the minute who are capable of somewhat catching Dundalk, but the way the league is panning out so far it looks like Dundalk will do the treble.

We’re not a big league, and we’re not a very well-known league. But it’s our league all the same, no matter how others might compare it to bigger leagues.