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Bring back Shamrock Rovers ‘B’ team


League of Ireland fans may remember the entry of Shamrock Rovers ‘B’ into the eight-team First Division for the 2014 campaign. Their presence was very welcome – both Mervue United and Salthill Devon had withdrawn after the 2013 season, subsumed into the new Galway side. Without the emergence of Rovers B, the 2014 First Division might have been in real trouble.

For the record, Rovers B finished sixth of the eight sides. They then promptly withdrew from the league, making way for Cabinteely FC in 2015. Now there is talk of Rovers B returning to the First Division for 2020. Bring it on, I say. It didn’t quite work out before, but that was then and this is now, as ABC would say.

How can I be so sure it would be a success this time out? Well, the whole point of putting a ‘B’ team into the main pyramid is to give players on the fringes of the squad some first-team experience. That may not be possible in the Premier Division, as the gulf between having come through the youth structure and stepping up to the first team is too big usually. Back in 2014 the academy structures were in their infancy, but in 2019 they have grown to include the suite of U13-U15-U17-U19 tiers of progression.

On the continent [Spain and Germany are two good examples] it is common for B teams of the top sides to play a couple of levels further down the pyramid. A couple of stipulations apply – the B team can never be promoted to a level equal to the first team, for example. The idea was even mooted for England, but was fought off by lower-league clubs.

In a country like Ireland we need to strengthen the lower levels of our pyramid. In my opinion bringing in the B teams of the likes of Rovers, Bohemians, Dundalk and Cork would be an ideal tool to achieve this. I wrote in my previous column about my support for a three-tier all-Ireland league that would see the leagues north and south combine. Add in the reserve sides of the likes of Linfield and Glentoranand the lower tiers of this proposed structure would be further strengthened.

If you can’t enter your B team into the pyramid and you are a big club then you have to loan out players. Why should big clubs have to do this? The players would much rather wear their own clubs colours in a lower division than playing in that division for someone else.


Brian Quigley

7 thoughts on “Bring back Shamrock Rovers ‘B’ team

  1. If the B team should win the first division they can’t go up to the premier division as they already have a team in it. Correct me if I’m wrong

  2. You’re absolutely correct, the team finishing behind would be promoted. some good points in this article which I very much agree with.

  3. I think any team could try to do this but not every team wants to or has the funding to do this either. And it would be a stepping stone for younger players to play in the league instead of not getting a chance.

  4. A good idea for the stronger clubs in the league but would it not create a bigger gulf between them and rest of the teams allowing them to blood younger and fringe players while the rest struggle to put a first team out if the league is to improve and be competitive it needs to be for one and all Rover’s infrastructure is to be much admired and a one adopted by the other clubs at the moment the proposed all Ireland league seems to be the best way forward

  5. I don’t understand why it has to be “the best team in the country” to enter a team. Surely it should be open to those who can handle it. As regards to creating a gulf, Rovers finished 6th out of 8 last time. If teams are “struggling to put a first team out”, what are they doing in the league? It should be about improving standards, teams have to step up or be left behind. The LOI doesn’t need lame ducks.

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