League of Ireland First Division
Number of teams10
Level on pyramid2
Promotion toLeague of Ireland Premier Division
Domestic cup(s)FAI Cup
League cup(s)League of Ireland Cup
International cup(s)
Current championsCork City (2nd title)
Most championshipsDrogheda United (5)
Current: 2023 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 for sponsorship reasons, is the second-highest division in both the League of Ireland and the Republic of Ireland football league system. The division was formed in 1985 as 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. The division is contested by 10 clubs.


Inaugural season

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 relegation

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. Treaty Utd from the Munster senior league joined the first division in 2021, replacing Shamrock Rovers second team.[8][9][3] Newly established Kerry FC were awarded their license in November 2022, confirming their place for the upcoming campaign. [10]

2023 clubs

Team Home city/suburb Stadium
Athlone Town Athlone Athlone Town Stadium
Bray Wanderers Bray Carlisle Grounds
Cobh Ramblers Cobh St. Colman's Park
Finn Harps Ballybofey Finn Park
Galway United Galway Eamonn Deacy Park
Kerry Tralee Mounthawk Park
Longford Town Longford Bishopsgate
Treaty United Limerick Markets Field
Waterford Waterford RSC
Wexford Crossabeg Ferrycarrig Park

List of winners by season

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 (2) 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 (2) Finn Harps Home Farm Everton
1996–97 Kilkenny City Drogheda United Waterford United
1997–98 Waterford United (2) Bray Wanderers Limerick
1998–99 Drogheda United (3) Galway United Cobh Ramblers
1999–2000 Bray Wanderers (3) Longford Town Kilkenny City
2000–01 Dundalk Monaghan United Athlone Town
2001–02 Drogheda United (4) Finn Harps Dublin City
2002–03 Waterford United (3) Finn Harps Galway United
2003 Dublin City Bray Wanderers Finn Harps
2004 Finn Harps UCD Bray Wanderers
2005 Sligo Rovers (2) Dublin City Cobh Ramblers
2006 Shamrock Rovers Dundalk Galway United
2007 Cobh Ramblers Finn Harps Dundalk
2008 Dundalk (2) Shelbourne Waterford United
2009 UCD (2) Shelbourne Sporting Fingal
2010 Derry City (2) Waterford United Monaghan United
2011 Cork City Shelbourne Monaghan United
2012 Limerick (2) Waterford United Longford Town
2013 Athlone Town (2) Longford Town Mervue United
2014 Longford Town Shelbourne Galway F.C.
2015 Wexford Youths Finn Harps UCD
2016 Limerick (3) Drogheda United UCD
2017 Waterford (4) Cobh Ramblers UCD
2018 UCD (3) Finn Harps Shelbourne
2019 Shelbourne Drogheda United Longford Town
2020 Drogheda United (5) Bray Wanderers UCD
2021 Shelbourne (2) Galway United UCD
2022 Cork City (2) Waterford Galway United


List of winners by club

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
Cork City 2 2011, 2022
Derry City 2 1986–87, 2010
Dundalk 2 2000–01, 2008
Shelbourne 2 2019, 2021
Sligo Rovers 2 1993–94, 2005
Wexford Youths 1 2015
Longford Town 1 2014
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 scorers

Season Player Club Goals
1985–86 Republic of Ireland Con McLoughlin Finn Harps 11
Republic of Ireland Harry McLoughlin Sligo Rovers 11
1986–87 Socialist Federal Republic of Yugoslavia Aleksandar Krstić Derry City 18
1987–88 Republic of Ireland Con McLoughlin Finn Harps 19
1988–89 Republic of Ireland Pat O'Connor Home Farm 14
1989–90 Republic of Ireland John Ryan Bray Wanderers 16
1990–91 Republic of Ireland Jim Barr Monaghan United 12
Republic of Ireland Con McLoughlin Finn Harps 12
1991–92 Republic of Ireland Con McLoughlin Finn Harps 12
Republic of Ireland Barry Ryan Limerick City 12
1992–93 Republic of Ireland Mick Byrne Monaghan United 15
Republic of Ireland Richie Parsons Longford Town 15
1993–94 Republic of Ireland Karl Gannon Home Farm 16
1994–95 Republic of Ireland Michael O'Byrne UCD 14
1994–95 Republic of Ireland Philip Power Home Farm 14
1995–96 Northern Ireland Jonathan Speak Finn Harps 17
1996–97 Republic of Ireland Richie Hale Kilkenny City 13
Republic of Ireland Tony Izzi Cobh Ramblers 13
1997–98 Republic of Ireland Fergal Coleman Galway United 13
1998–99 Republic of Ireland Tony Izzi Cobh Ramblers 13
1999–00 Republic of Ireland Robbie Farrell Home Farm Fingal 17
Republic of Ireland Andrew Myler Monaghan United 17
Republic of Ireland Keith O'Connor Longford Town 17
2000–01 Republic of Ireland Andrew Myler (Note 1) Athlone Town 29
2001–02 Republic of Ireland Kevin McHugh (Note 2) Finn Harps 27
2002–03 Republic of Ireland Willie Bruton Cobh Ramblers 14
Republic of Ireland Kevin McHugh Finn Harps 14
2003 Republic of Ireland Alan Murphy Galway United 21
2004 Republic of Ireland Kevin McHugh Finn Harps 24
2005 Republic of Ireland Kieran O'Reilly Cobh Ramblers 17
2006 Republic of Ireland Philip Hughes Dundalk 21
2007 Republic of Ireland Conor Gethins Finn Harps 15
2008 Republic of Ireland Robbie Doyle Sporting Fingal 17
2009 Republic of Ireland Conan Byrne Sporting Fingal 21
2010 Republic of Ireland Graham Cummins Cork City 18
Republic of Ireland Mark Farren Derry City 18
Republic of Ireland Willie John Kiely Waterford United 18
2011 Republic of Ireland Graham Cummins Cork City 24
2012 Republic of Ireland Sean Maguire Waterford United 13
Republic of Ireland Kevin McHugh Finn Harps 13
Republic of Ireland Daniel Furlong Wexford Youths 13
2013 Republic of Ireland David O'Sullivan Longford Town 21
2014 Republic of Ireland David O'Sullivan Longford Town 21
2015 Republic of Ireland Daniel Furlong Wexford Youths 30
2016 Republic of Ireland Gary O'Neil UCD 13
2017 Republic of Ireland Georgie Kelly UCD 17
2018 Republic of Ireland David O'Sullivan Shelbourne 15
2019 Republic of Ireland Rob Manley Cabinteely 17
2020 Republic of Ireland Yousef Mahdy UCD 15
2021 Republic of Ireland Colm Whelan UCD 19
2022 Scotland Phoenix Patterson Waterford 17



See also


  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. ^ "Kerry FC approved to join League of Ireland in 2023". RTE Sport. 16 November 2022. Retrieved 16 November 2022.
  11. ^ "Ireland – List of Topscorers". Rec.Sport.Soccer Statistics Foundation. Archived from the original on 6 April 2012. Retrieved 6 July 2016.