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Regionalisation and the League of Ireland

Connacht and Munster have seven clubs between the two of them currently playing in the League of Ireland, with Cork being the only county having more than one team, on the other hand, Leinster have 12 clubs, with the one remaining side being Derry City and Finn Harps of Ulster.

Having done my research, Leinster currently has a population of just over 2.5 million and the south and west have 2 million hailing from that region, so by that logic, those extra five clubs should be averaging 100,000 people each going through the gate that make the five extra teams make sense, and as much as we would like to dream, no League of Ireland club is ever going to have 100,000 people walking through the turnstiles.

As of the time of writing, there are currently four teams (Cork City, Limerick, Cobh Ramblers and Waterford United) playing in the League of Ireland that reside in Munster, with only of those playing in the Premier Division in City.

I know Limerick are basically promoted to the Premier Division for the 2017 season, as the Shannonsiders only needing 18 points in their last 12 league games to claim the First Division title, but as of right now, there is only one side from the south playing Premier Division football week in week out.

But why is it this way?

I know Connacht have a claim to being the worse off of the two provinces, as Sligo Rovers, Galway United, but those three clubs are at least plying their trade in the Premier Division, In terms of quantity, Munster wins, but in terms of quality, despite the fact that Cork City have finished second in consecutive years, Connacht takes the biscuit.

We all know the League of Ireland needs some bit of regionalisation, but I think it would be better to experiment with introducing a team from either Tipperary or Clare, how do we expect the League to flourish if not every county has a go at hosting a team! Things may have not worked out the way they were meant to when Kildare County and Kilkenny City were introduced a number of years ago, but wouldn’t it be worth it to at least go back and try again?

When Cabinteely were introduced as the First Divisions eighth club back in 2015, it really was a lost opportunity for something like this to happen, why do we need an sixth Dublin team when we could have branched out a little and had someone like Ennis Town, or Tipperary Town, or even someone like a Castlebar Celtic or a Westport United in Mayo brought into the fray and leave them hold the baton for a little while, you can say all you want that those counties wouldn’t generate an interest in their respective counties, but how would you know if you never give it a shot?

This idea isn’t going to be the saving grace that the League of Ireland so desperately needs, but why can’t it at least boost the league, even if it’s for a year or two, it would certainly give it the shot in the arm it most defiantly needs in the short term!

Colm Cuddihy

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2 thoughts on “Regionalisation and the League of Ireland

  1. Thurles Town, Newcastle(west) United, Monaghan United, Kilkenny City, Kildare County in the last 30 years or so have all come and gone – Cobh Ramblers came, went and thankfully are back again. We’ve had Cork Hibs, Cork Celtic, lost both then Albert Rovers/Cork Alberts/Cork City arrived, struggled, nearly left, etc.. Just having clubs in the regions for the sake of it isn’t going to improve things as much as we’d all love to see it – probably reinforce the opinion of many that this League is an insignificant irritation in the grand scheme of things i.e. worshiping at the altar of all things Sky and the “Greatest League in the world”.

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