Whilst Gaelic games might be the most watched sports in the country, more Irish people play soccer (commonly referred to as football) than any other sport. The Football Association of Ireland (FAI) are the governing body and oversee domestic leagues and national teams. Football is especially popular in urban areas and in 2017/2018 the Leinster Senior League (LSL) for adults operated 21 divisions. The Dublin and District Schoolboys League (DDSL), founded in 1943, is affiliated with more than 200 clubs and operates divisions from boys and girls under 7 right up to under 18s.
The top tiers of football in Ireland are known as the SSE Airtricity League with two divisions: The Premier Division and the First Division. There are four Dublin teams in the Premier Division: Bohemian F.C., Shamrock Rovers F.C., St Patrick’s Athletic and UCD. There are two Dublin teams in the First Division: Cabinteely and Shelbourne. At international level, the Republic of Ireland field twenty teams with the Irish senior men’s and women’s being the most well known. The Ireland’s men’s national team reached the quarterfinals of the World Cup in 1990.
Dublin Premier Division Teams
Dublin boasts four Premier Division teams:
Nicknamed “the Bohs”, it is the oldest existing club in the League. They’ve seen a lot of ups and downs. They dominated the League of Ireland in its early years before spending decades in the wilderness. Long an amateur team, they gave into professionalism in 1969 and saw their fortunes revive. They were dogged by poor performances in the 1980s and 1990s, but have returned to form since the 2000s. Their home ground is Dalymount Park in Phibsborough.
Bohs longstanding rivals, Shamrock Rovers F.C., is Ireland’s most successful club. That’s a long-held distinction – they won the first League in 1922-1923. They were the first Irish team to compete in European competition, taking part in the 1957 European Cup. Their large following of devoted fans saved the club from financial ruin in the late 2000s. Their home ground is Tallaght Stadium.
Their motto Ní neart go cu le cheile (No strength without unity) sums up their fans’ devotion. They are some of the most vocal in Irish football, meeting periods of turmoil in the club’s history with protests. In 2005, the FAI tried to force St Pat’s to share a ground with Shamrock Rovers, bringing fans out onto the streets. Their home ground was – and remains – Richmond Park, Inchicore.
Known as UCD or ‘the Students’, they were founded in 1895 and joined the League in 1979. Its small but dedicated fan base included Father Ted actor, Dermot Morgan. The team benefits from a scholarship scheme, run in conjunction with the university, that allows promising players to earn a college degree. They have met with some success, earning a place in the 1984-85 European Cup Winners’ Cup, the 2000 UEFA Intertoto Cup, the 2015-16 UEFA Europa League and the 2017-2018 UEFA Youth League. Their home ground is the UCD Bowl on the Belfield campus.
Local club football
To find a local team to join, see this comprehensive listing of soccer clubs in Dublin.