League of Ireland First Division

The League of Ireland First Division (Irish: Céad Roinn Sraith na hÉireann), also known as the SSE Airtricity League First Division, is the second level division in both the League of Ireland and the Republic of Ireland football league system. The division was formed in 1985. It replaced the League of Ireland B Division as the League of Ireland's second level division. Since 2003 the First Division has operated as a summer league.

League of Ireland First Division
League of Ireland logo.png
CountryRepublic of Ireland
Number of teams10
Level on pyramid2
Promotion toLeague of Ireland Premier Division
Domestic cup(s)FAI Cup
League cup(s)League of Ireland Cup
Current championsDrogheda United, 5th title
Most championshipsDrogheda United (5)
Current: 2021 League of Ireland First Division


Inaugural seasonEdit

In 1985 five teams – Bray Wanderers, Cobh Ramblers, Derry City, EMFA and Newcastle United – were elected to join the League of Ireland. All five subsequently participated in the inaugural 1985–86 First Division season, along with Monaghan United from the League of Ireland B Division and four clubs – Drogheda United, Finn Harps, Longford Town and Sligo Rovers – who were relegated following the 1984–85 League of Ireland season. Bray Wanderers were the inaugural First Division champions.[1][2][3]


As a second level division, clubs playing in the First Division cannot qualify directly for Europe. However First Division clubs have qualified for Europe after winning the FAI Cup. In 1989–90 Bray Wanderers qualified for the 1990–91 European Cup Winners' Cup after winning the 1989–90 FAI Cup final. As a result, they became the first First Division team to play in Europe. In 1993–94 Sligo Rovers qualified for the 1994–95 European Cup Winners' Cup after winning the 1993–94 FAI Cup final. Rovers were also the 1993–94 First Division champions and were promoted to the 1994–95 Premier Division. As a result, they were actually a Premier Division club when they played in Europe. Bray Wanderers qualified for the 1999–2000 UEFA Cup after winning the 1999 FAI Cup Final. However, after finishing eleventh in the 1998–99 Premier Division, they were relegated to 1999–2000 First Division and as a result they were playing in the First Division when they subsequently embarked on their European campaign.[1][2]

In 2009 Sporting Fingal qualified for the 2010–11 UEFA Europa League after winning the 2009 FAI Cup Final. They were also promoted to the 2010 Premier Division after winning the promotion/relegation play-off.[4] In 2015 UCD qualified for the 2015–16 UEFA Europa League via the UEFA Respect Fair Play ranking system. After the FAI finished third in the 2014–15 rankings, they nominated UCD for the extra European place.[5][6]

Promotion and relegationEdit

A promotion and relegation system has existed between the League of Ireland Premier Division and the First Division since 1985–86. In 1992–93 a promotion/relegation play-off was also introduced. Between 2008 and 2011, A Championship teams were also eligible for promotion to the First Division. During this time both Mervue United and Salthill Devon were both promoted to the First Division from the A Championship.[7][4][2][3] There is no formal promotion and relegation relationship between the First Division and the three third level provincial leagues – the Leinster Senior League Senior Division, the Munster Senior League and the Ulster Senior League. However provincial level teams have been invited to join the division. In 1990–91 St James's Gate were invited to join and in 1996–97 they were replaced by St Francis. In 2015, Cabinteely became the most recent team to accept an invite. All three clubs were recruited from the Leinster Senior League[8][9][3]

2021 clubsEdit

Locations of the First Division teams
Locations of Dublin First Division teams
Team Home city/suburb Stadium
Athlone Town Athlone Athlone Town Stadium
Cabinteely Dublin (Blackrock) Stradbrook Road
Bray Wanderers Bray Carlisle Grounds
Cobh Ramblers Cobh St. Colman's Park
Cork City Cork Turners Cross
Galway United Galway Eamonn Deacy Park
Shelbourne Dublin (Drumcondra) Tallaght Stadium
Treaty United Limerick Markets Field
UCD Dublin (Belfield) UCD Bowl
Wexford Crossabeg Ferrycarrig Park

List of winners by seasonEdit

Season Champions Runners-up Third place
1985–86 Bray Wanderers Sligo Rovers Longford Town
1986–87 Derry City Shelbourne Drogheda United
1987–88 Athlone Town Cobh Ramblers Finn Harps
1988–89 Drogheda United UCD Bray Wanderers
1989–90 Waterford United Sligo Rovers Bray Wanderers
1990–91 Drogheda United Bray Wanderers Cobh Ramblers
1991–92 Limerick City Waterford United Cobh Ramblers
1992–93 Galway United Cobh Ramblers Monaghan United
1993–94 Sligo Rovers Athlone Town Finn Harps
1994–95 UCD Drogheda United Finn Harps
1995–96 Bray Wanderers Finn Harps Home Farm Everton
1996–97 Kilkenny City Drogheda United Waterford United
1997–98 Waterford United Bray Wanderers Limerick
1998–99 Drogheda United Galway United Cobh Ramblers
1999–2000 Bray Wanderers Longford Town Kilkenny City
2000–01 Dundalk Monaghan United Athlone Town
2001–02 Drogheda United Finn Harps Dublin City
2002–03 Waterford United Finn Harps Galway United
2003 Dublin City Bray Wanderers Finn Harps
2004 Finn Harps UCD Bray Wanderers
2005 Sligo Rovers Dublin City Cobh Ramblers
2006 Shamrock Rovers Dundalk Galway United
2007 Cobh Ramblers Finn Harps Dundalk
2008 Dundalk Shelbourne Waterford United
2009 UCD Shelbourne Sporting Fingal
2010 Derry City Waterford United Monaghan United
2011 Cork City Shelbourne Monaghan United
2012 Limerick Waterford United Longford Town
2013 Athlone Town Longford Town Mervue United
2014 Longford Town Shelbourne Galway F.C.
2015 Wexford Youths Finn Harps UCD
2016 Limerick Drogheda United UCD
2017 Waterford Cobh Ramblers UCD
2018 UCD Finn Harps Shelbourne
2019 Shelbourne Drogheda United Longford Town
2020 Drogheda United Bray Wanderers UCD


List of winners by clubEdit

Club Titles Seasons
Drogheda United 5 1988–89, 1990–91, 1998–99, 2001–02, 2020
Waterford 4 1989–90, 1997–98, 2002–03, 2017
UCD 3 1994–95, 2009, 2018
Limerick 3 1991–92, 2012, 2016
Bray Wanderers 3 1985–86, 1995–96, 1999–00
Athlone Town 2 1987–88, 2013
Derry City 2 1986–87, 2010
Dundalk 2 2000–01, 2008
Sligo Rovers 2 1993–94, 2005
Shelbourne 1 2019
Wexford Youths 1 2015
Longford Town 1 2014
Cork City 1 2011
Cobh Ramblers 1 2007
Shamrock Rovers 1 2006
Finn Harps 1 2004
Dublin City 1 2003
Kilkenny City 1 1996–97
Galway United 1 1992–93


Top scorersEdit

Season Player Club Goals
1985–86   Con McLoughlin Finn Harps 11
  Harry McLoughlin Sligo Rovers 11
1986–87   Aleksandar Krstić Derry City 18
1987–88   Con McLoughlin Finn Harps 19
1988–89   Pat O'Connor Home Farm 14
1989–90   John Ryan Bray Wanderers 16
1990–91   Jim Barr Monaghan United 12
  Con McLoughlin Finn Harps 12
1991–92   Con McLoughlin Finn Harps 12
  Barry Ryan Limerick City 12
1992–93   Mick Byrne Monaghan United 15
  Richie Parsons Longford Town 15
1993–94   Karl Gannon Home Farm 16
1994–95   Michael O'Byrne UCD 14
1994–95   Philip Power Home Farm 14
1995–96   Jonathan Speak Finn Harps 17
1996–97   Richie Hale Kilkenny City 13
  Tony Izzi Cobh Ramblers 13
1997–98   Fergal Coleman Galway United 13
1998–99   Tony Izzi Cobh Ramblers 13
1999–00   Robbie Farrell Home Farm Fingal 17
  Andrew Myler Monaghan United 17
  Keith O'Connor Longford Town 17
2000–01   Andrew Myler (Note 1) Athlone Town 29
2001–02   Kevin McHugh (Note 2) Finn Harps 27
2002–03   Willie Bruton Cobh Ramblers 14
  Kevin McHugh Finn Harps 14
2003   Alan Murphy Galway United 21
2004   Kevin McHugh Finn Harps 24
2005   Kieran O'Reilly Cobh Ramblers 17
2006   Philip Hughes Dundalk 21
2007   Conor Gethins Finn Harps 15
2008   Robbie Doyle Sporting Fingal 17
2009   Conan Byrne Sporting Fingal 21
2010   Graham Cummins Cork City 18
  Mark Farren Derry City 18
  Willie John Kiely Waterford United 18
2011   Graham Cummins Cork City 24
2012   Sean Maguire Waterford United 13
  Kevin McHugh Finn Harps 13
  Daniel Furlong Wexford Youths 13
2013   David O'Sullivan Longford Town 21
2014   David O'Sullivan Longford Town 21
2015   Daniel Furlong Wexford Youths 30
2016   Gary O'Neil UCD 13
2017   Georgie Kelly UCD 17
2018   David O'Sullivan Shelbourne 15
2019   Rob Manley Cabinteely 17
2020   Yousef Mahdy UCD 15



  • ^1 Including 2 goals in playoffs
  • ^2 Including 3 goals in playoffs

See alsoEdit


  1. ^ a b c d Graham, Alex. Football in the Republic of Ireland a Statistical Record 1921–2005. Soccer Baooks Limited. ISBN 1-86223-135-4.
  2. ^ a b c d e "(Republic of) Ireland League Tables - Second Level". Rec.Sport.Soccer Statistics Foundation. Archived from the original on 3 June 2009. Retrieved 10 July 2016.
  3. ^ a b c "What Happens (To) Teams That Enter The League of Ireland First Division?". balls.ie. 20 February 2015. Retrieved 26 March 2016.
  4. ^ a b "Ireland 2009". Rec.Sport.Soccer Statistics Foundation. Retrieved 27 July 2016.
  5. ^ "Ireland leading UEFA Fair Play League". SSE Airtricity League. 15 January 2015.
  6. ^ "UCD set for Europa League after topping Fair Play standings". The Irish Times. 8 May 2015. Retrieved 8 May 2015.
  7. ^ "Ireland 2008". Rec.Sport.Soccer Statistics Foundation. Retrieved 25 July 2016.
  8. ^ "Cabinteely FC will play in First Division in 2015 after FAI awards new licence". RTE Sport. 28 January 2015. Retrieved 29 January 2015.
  9. ^ "Cabinteely get green light to compete in League of Ireland First Division". Irish Independent. 28 January 2015. Retrieved 29 January 2015.
  10. ^ "Ireland – List of Topscorers". Rec.Sport.Soccer Statistics Foundation. Archived from the original on 6 April 2012. Retrieved 6 July 2016.

External linksEdit