European Football : The League of Ireland - Major clubs
Football : Bored of the Champions League? Tired of hearing about the Premiership? How about a little insight into the big guns from the League of Ireland?
Dundalk have come to prominence in the last few years in the SSE Airtricity League. In 2008 the Lilywhites were playing in Ireland’s second tier, the first division. They won that division securing promotion to the top flight. Since then Dundalk have gone on to claim major honours in the top flight.
They won the Premier Division, three years in a row 2014, 2015 and 2016. They are currently second in the league of Ireland for 2017. Dundalk also claimed the League of Ireland Cup in 2014 and 2017, as well as winning the FAI Cup in 2015. Last year they made it to the group stages of the Europa League where they had good results against Maccabi Tel Aviv and AZ Alkmaar. Tommy McConville has the clubs most appearances at 584 in all competitions. He went on to make his first appearance for Ireland in 1971.
Joey Donnelly is the clubs top record goalscorer with 141 goals, while current striker David McMillan is the club top scorer in European competitions.
Some current players that have played for Dundalk are Daryl Horgan, Richie Towell and Andy Boyle. Horgan and Boyle currently play in the English Championship with Preston North End, both have also been named in Ireland squads for the World Cup Qualifiers in recent times. Richie Towell also played with Dundalk and he now plays on loan from Brighton with Rotherham United in the championship.
Cork City FC
Cork City is a name that you might recognise in the footballing world. To date they have only won two League of Ireland titles them coming in 1992/93 and 2005/2006. However, they look set to deliver another title on Leeside in 2017 as they are currently sitting pretty on the top of the Premier league.
Cork have many current famous players including Southampton striker Shane Long, Burnley defender Kevin Long, Colorado Rapids striker Kevin Doyle and Preston North Ends Sean Maguire. Doyle and Long are the two most noted players, Doyle made 76 appearances scoring 25 goals before making his across the Irish Sea to Reading. He has made 64 appearances for the Republic of Ireland to date. Shane Long currently plays with Southampton, but his first club was Cork where he was discovered through a scholarship programme. He went on play for Hull, West Brom and Reading also. To date he has made 71 appearances for Ireland scoring 17 goals.
St. Patrick's Athletic
One of the most historic clubs in the league of Ireland. St Pat’s have won 8 League of Ireland titles, including a treble, 1995/96, 1997/98 and 1998/99. Their most recent league title was in 2013. They have also claimed league of Ireland cups in 2014 and 2016 as well as winning the FAI Cup in 2014.
Paul McGrath began his career with St Pat’s making 26 appearances, before going on to play in England for Manchester United, Aston Villa and Derby. McGrath earned the PFAI player of the year in his first season with St Pat’s. He went to play for the Republic of Ireland making 83 appearances scoring 8 goals. He played at the 1990 and 1994 World Cups as well as Euro 88. Keith Fahey is another player people may recognise. He played 102 games for St Pat’s from 2003 to 2005 and 2006 to 2008. He scored 23 goals for the club, he went on to play for Birmingham City making 121 appearances scoring 9 goals between 2009-2013. He made 16 appearances for Ireland scoring 3 goals. Another historic player in the clubs history is Shay Gibbons, he made 115 appearances for the club scoring a remarkable 108 goals from 1950 to 1957. He made 4 appearances for the Republic of Ireland also.
The side effectively known as the ‘Hoops’ are the most successful club in the League of Ireland, many people may not know that! Indeed Rovers have won the League on 17 occasions, while they have won the FAI Cup 24 times in their history. Another amazing statistic is that the club have supplied more players (62) to the Republic of Ireland squad than any other club. The club won six FAI Cup's in succession in the 1960’s and they also helped found the United States League. The club became the first Irish side to reach the group stages of either European competition when they defeated Partizan Belgrade in the play-off round in the Europa League in 2011. Their most recent League of Ireland title was in 2011.
John Giles, Jim Beglin and Eamonn Dunphy have all played for Rovers. Giles played for Rovers in his latter part of his career making 42 appearances scoring 11 goals, Giles would also go on to play for Ireland making 59 appearances, while he also went to coach Ireland, West Brom and indeed Rovers. Jim Beglin will probably be known to many for his voice on sports commentating, mostly soccer. Beglin made 58 appearances for Rovers before moving to Liverpool, where he a league title, FA Cup and Charity Shield. He later went on to play for Leeds and won the second division, the equivalent of the championship nowadays. Dunphy will be known also as a soccer pundit. He mostly played for Millwall, but he played for Rovers from 1977 to 1978, it was his last club. He scored two goals in 33 games for the Hoops.