Five reasons to get excited about this League of Ireland season

When the League of Ireland season gets back underway on Friday night, it would have been 105 days since the last set of league fixtures.

As fans we all know how long the off season is, it’s far too long but thankfully the wait is nearly over. 

This season has the potential to be one of the best in recent times. 

There is a real buzz in the air about the season ahead. Like every year, fans across the country are optimistic about their team’s chances, and yet one bad or poor performance on Friday night and it’s a crisis. That’s football, it’s why we love it. 

With the opening games fast approaching, here are five reasons are looking forward to this League of Ireland season. 

A Title Race

Shamrock Rovers are the favourites to claim the top spot and reclaim their Premier Division title for the fifth year in a row once again. 

However, there could be at least two clubs who might have a say about this. 

Firstly, Derry City and Ruaidhrí Higgins are a team that are setting their sights on title glory this year without a doubt. 

While it might not be title or bust for the Candystripes as discussed on The extratime Football Podcast this week. Higgins has spent the past two years building a squad and with the signing of a top marksman in Pat Hoban, he could be the final piece of the jigsaw for Derry to finally push the Hoops for their crown. 

While in Dublin 8, Jon Daly’s men, despite losing some crucial players in the off season such as Sam Curtis, and Dean Lyness, have added some real quality to their side this year. 

Even with the bad loss to Rovers in the President’s Cup last Friday night, it’s expected that St. Pats will challenge the top two teams this season. 

One thing the league has lacked the past five years is a proper title race. 

The days of Kenny v Caulfield when both teams went head-to-head with one another was brilliant for the league. There was some memorable matches and moments at Oriel Park and Turner’s Cross which brought brilliant attention onto the League of Ireland, showcasing it’s potential to a wider audience.

Now with increased interest across the league, a dramatic title race between two or three clubs going into the final weeks of the season could be exactly what the domestic league needs to keep trending upward.


Increased TV Coverage 

Every League of Ireland fan can remember the dark days. Lack of build-up for games, lack of advertisement on television, and lack of care by stakeholders when it came to the League of Ireland season beginning.

The first couple weeks there would TV coverage, a few games wedged in over a three- or four-week period, and then, nothing, for weeks. Not even a highlight show. Total neglection. 

The feeling of frustration would grow among the League of Ireland community as many saw the lack of TV coverage being a big factor for the league struggling to grow and reach the masses. 

Thankfully, those days seem to be in the past. It was agreed that there will be an increased number of matches shown live on television this year across the three broadcasters, RTÉ, Virgin Media, and TG4.

Virgin Media coming to the table is a huge positive for the League of Ireland. Last year after flirting with the league, showing games incrementally throughout the season, they have committed to at least 14 live matches this season. Including experimenting with midweek fixtures. 

The overall figure of 48 live games is still short on what should be shown in my opinion. The goal should be a minimum of one live game per week on television, but we are finally trending in the right direction. 

Exciting Young Talent 

The word ‘Brexit’ is a word most people were sick to death with after the long drawn on process of Great Britain leaving the European Union. 

However, it has had a permanent effect on the domestic game here. Players under the age of 18 cannot sign for British clubs (but can sign for European clubs). 

The conveyor belt of talented young Irish players getting on a boat or plane at 15 or 16 years old to sign for Manchester United, Liverpool, Leeds United, etc, does not happen anymore. 

As well as Brexit, the growth of League of Ireland clubs and their academy structures the past decade has encouraged players to stay in the country to develop and learn their trade before heading across to the UK or further afield. This has meant most of the best and exciting Irish talent now play in the domestic league. An example is Sam Curtis who recently earned a move to Sheffield United after starring for St. Patrick’s Athletic. 

On top of that, young Irish players who have gone away, now decide to return to Ireland to showcase their talent to reignite their careers. Jonathan Afolabi being the most recent example. 

This season, young stars such as Mason Melia, James McManus, Conan Noonan, and Kian Leavy will play huge roles for their clubs and will no doubt excite the fans across the league. 



The days of going to League of Ireland games with paltry crowds are in rear view mirror. Again, thankfully. 

As Ireland began to emerge from a global pandemic, the League of Ireland crowds began to explode throughout the country.

The exact reasoning for this is unknown and is more than likely a multitude of factors – social media, club’s embedding themselves further in their communities, disillusionment with the game at the highest level – whatever the exact reason, it has made for a better spectacle. 

Last year, the League of Ireland attedances increased by 20%, and the FAI Cup final between St. Patrick's Athletic and Bohemians was a complete sell out.

The rush to get tickets before they sell out is a new phenomenon for everyone. Look at social media this week and the disappointment in away end allocations in Galway and Derry as many fans were left disappointed not to get a golden ticket for this weekend’s action. 

This of course leads to further calls for improvements in facilities which is badly needed, but sold-out crowds, exciting atmospheres, the shrill of emotion within stadia across the league is a positive and something to look forward to this season.


The extratime Football Podcast 

Ah yes, a cheap plug. 

But in all seriousness, this year promises to be an even better year for More reporters, two weekly podcasts, and a team who are pushing to create more League of Ireland and Irish football content throughout the season. 

The past week, we have had the re-launch of the The extratime Football Podcast as we split our Preview Shows over two parts as we previewed the clubs ahead of the season kick off on Friday night. 

While Oisin Langan is back to present the League of Ireland Voice Notes Podcast to give around the ground reports from Friday night’s matches on Saturday morning, so you can get your League of Ireland fix while you enjoy your weekend coffee. 

Whether you’re a fan for years, or only a new fan to the Greatest League In The World, enjoy the ride. 

Finally, c’mon the Saints, let’s hope John Daly’s men, will have Inchicore bouncing again.