Have you ever wondered about the most popular Irish football team? In this post, I will list 5 of them. And you will learn about the club’s history, achievements, and records.
The League of Ireland was established in 1921, and it is one of the two main governing bodies overseeing association football in the Republic of Ireland.
The men’s League consists of 20 teams across two divisions, with promotion and relegation mechanisms in place.
Comprising the Premier Division, First Division, and Women’s Premier Division, the League collaborates closely with the FAI and officially merged with it in 2006.
However, the League implemented a salary cap in 2007, positioning itself as a pioneer in European football. With that said, here are the:
Most Popular Football Team In Ireland
- Shamrock Rovers
- Dundalk FC
- Sporting Fingal
- Derry City
- St Patrick’s
1. Shamrock Rovers
Shamrock Rovers Football Club is arguably the biggest, and the most popular team in the Irish league.
With 20 League of Ireland titles and 25 FAI Cup victories, they hold the record for being the most successful club in the Republic of Ireland.
Moreover, no other club has contributed more players to the Republic of Ireland national football team, with an impressive tally of 64 players wearing the green jersey.
In the 1950s, they became the first Irish team to compete in European competitions, notably participating in the European Cup in 1957.
The 1960s saw their dominance, winning six consecutive FA Cups. Additionally, the club’s historic involvement in the United Soccer Association in 1967 helped raise the global profile of Irish football.
Shamrock Rovers became the first Irish side to reach the group stages of either of the top two European competitions, triumphing over Partizan Belgrade in the Europa League play-off round.
2. Dundalk FC
After Shamrock Rovers, Dundalk Football Club is the second most successful football club in the history of the League of Ireland.
They are also the highest-ranked Irish club in European football according to UEFA club coefficients.
The club made its European debut during the 1963-64 European Cup, becoming the first Irish side to secure an away victory on the continental stage.
The peak of Dundalk’s European campaigns arrived in the 1979-80 season when they reached the last 16 of the prestigious European Cup.
And in the 1981-82 season, they made it to the last 16 of the European Cup Winners’ Cup.
In a remarkable achievement, Dundalk became the only Irish club to qualify for the group stage of the UEFA Europa League twice.
Also In the 2016-17 season, they not only secured points but also triumphed with a memorable victory, becoming the first team from Ireland to accomplish such a feat at that level of European competition.
As of the 2022-23 season, Dundalk remains the only Irish team to have achieved this milestone.
3. Sporting Fingal
Sporting Fingal Football Club is one of the most popular Irish football teams during their brief existence in the league
In their inaugural two seasons, Sporting Fingal competed in the First Division before earning a promotion to the Premier Division.
Their short stay in the League of Ireland proved successful, with notable achievements to their name. In 2009, the club clinched victory in the FAI Cup, securing a place in the UEFA Europa League.
Their success continued in 2010 as they triumphed in the A Championship Cup, once again qualifying for European competition.
Sporting Fingal’s shows in the League of Ireland began on 8 March 2008 with a challenging 5-1 defeat against Longford Town.
However, they quickly found their footing and finished fourth in the 2008 First Division.
Their season in 2009 proved to be a standout one as they made a third-place finish and secured promotion to the Premier Division, while also claiming the 2009 FAI Cup.
In the 2010 Premier Division, Sporting Fingal attained a fourth-place finish, earning qualification for the 2011 Setanta Sports Cup and the 2011-12 UEFA Europa League.
Additionally, their reserve team proved their prowess by winning the 2010 A Championship Cup, triumphing over Bohemians A in a 3-2 final.
Though their time in the League of Ireland was brief, the club’s success is impressive.
4. Derry City
Derry City Football Club, founded in 1928, has endured a turbulent yet inspiring history, making it one of the most popular clubs in Irish football.
Initially competing in the Irish League, the domestic league in Northern Ireland, Derry City tasted success, winning a title in the 1964-65 season.
However, in 1971, the Troubles, a period of intense conflict in Northern Ireland, created security concerns that prevented matches from being played at the Brandywell stadium.
As a result, the team was forced to relocate 30 miles away to Coleraine to fulfill their home fixtures.
The following year, the security forces lifted their objections to using the Brandywell, but the Irish League insisted on maintaining the unsustainable arrangement.
Faced with this demand, Derry City made the difficult decision to withdraw from the league. For the next 13 years, the club participated in junior football, fighting to keep the spirit of Derry City alive.
In 1985-86, an opportunity arose when Derry City joined the League of Ireland’s new First Division. The club seized this chance and clinched the First Division title, securing promotion to the Premier Division in 1987.
Their return to the top flight marked a remarkable comeback for the club.
Derry City was accompanied by an extraordinary achievement in the 1988-89 season when they accomplished a domestic treble, a feat that is yet to be broken by other League of Ireland clubs to date.
However, the club faced a setback in November 2009 when it was discovered that secondary, unofficial contracts with players existed, leading to their departure from the league.
Nevertheless, Derry City’s fighting spirit prevailed, and a few weeks later, they were restored, albeit demoted to the First Division, the second tier of Irish football.
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5. St Patrick’s
St Patrick’s Athletic Football Club, known as St Pat’s, holds a position as Ireland’s fifth most decorated football club.
They boast a huge collection of trophies, having been crowned champions of the League of Ireland eight times, clinched four FAI Cups, and secured four league cups.
Their illustrious history started with a league triumph on their inaugural attempt in 1951, and their most recent title came in 2013.
In total, they have amassed an impressive tally of 18 major trophies, with their most recent success occurring in the 2021 edition of the FAI Cup.
While their domestic success is clear, St Patrick’s Athletic’s European campaigns have also drawn attention. With eight UEFA Champions League qualification matches under their belt, they have yet to secure a victory.
In a total of 60 matches across different European competitions, St Pat’s has emerged victorious on 13 occasions.
However, their European record may not be as impressive as they might hope, but St Patrick’s Athletic remains a formidable force in Irish football.
Shamrock Rovers rank number one most popular football team in Irish football with their record 20 League of Ireland titles and iconic European performances.
Followed by Dundalk FC which has made its name in European competition, being the highest-ranked Irish club and achieving notable successes on the continental level.
Sporting Fingal may have had a brief existence, but their achievements in the League of Ireland and European competitions were remarkable.
Derry City’s turbulent history, including relocation and comeback, made them a popular club. St Patrick’s Athletic then rank as the 5th most popular Irish football team, with their numerous domestic titles.
In all, each of these teams has contributed to the history of Irish football. of Irish football, winning fans with their history, achievements, and passion for the game.
Kenneth is a an avid soccer follower, fan and writer. He is a consistent follower of the sport and is a fan of Chelsea FC.