League of Ireland - First Division 2024

The League of Ireland First Division (also known as the SSE Airtricity League First Division) is the second tier of Irish football. It features nine teams from across the country, with the season running from February to November before a break over the winter period.

We have put together this useful guide that explains everything you need to know about betting on the League of Ireland First Division and the competition's history.

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Greg Lea
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Fact checked by Rebecca Mackay

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How To Get Started

We only work with experts here at Irishluck - that is why we believe this should be your go-to website for League of Ireland First Division betting. Our guides are designed to help you be as successful as possible in your betting journey, and you can rest assured that ample research has gone into them.

Before placing any bets, you should open your browser and sign up for several different betting sites. To do this, you will need to enter your personal details (you can make some changes later if these change), read the privacy policy and accept the terms and conditions. You can find links to our favourite bookmakers at the top of this page - we will explain later on why we think it is best to have multiple accounts. Once you have signed up, simply deposit some money into your account, and you are ready to get started!

League of Ireland First Division Title Winners

The team that finishes top of the League of Ireland First Division table is also known as the title winner, which brings with it a trophy and a place in the Premier Division the following year. 

You can put money on which team will win the title - this market is most popular in pre-season but it is usually available throughout the campaign, at least until one team has an unassailable lead at the summit of the standings. At the time of writing, Cork City - four-time FAI Cup winners - are in pole position to scoop the prize, although Galway are in hot pursuit.

League of Ireland First Division Promotion

Four teams compete in the end-of-season play-offs in the First Division, so if you back a team to win promotion and they do so through the play-offs, your bet will be successful. You might also be able to predict the sides that will finish in the play-off spots from second to fifth.

League of Ireland First Division Relegation

There is no relegation in the League of Ireland First Division, although some bookmakers may offer the chance to bet on the team that will finish bottom of the league. In the 2022 season, Athlone Town (with just two points from their first 13 matches) look set to finish ninth out of nine.

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Tips and Tricks

Here at Irishluck, our authors and tipsters are experts in their fields. In many cases they are successful sports bettors themselves, so you can trust what they have to say. Here are some tips and tricks which should help you to get started in the world of League of Ireland First Division betting.

What To Do

Compare Sportsbooks

As we mentioned at the start of this article, you should have accounts with more than one sportsbook. The odds they offer for the same event are unlikely to be vastly different, but you can often find the best possible price by shopping around - just like you would do for your weekly groceries or your flights to Croatia.

Keep Calm

One thing is for sure: many of your bets will be unsuccessful. It is important to remember that even professional sports bettors lose wagers. Do not panic - if you have a smart strategy and a long-term outlook, you should be able to make a profit over time.

Dig Into the Data

We will be honest here - you are not going to find as much data on the League of Ireland First Division as the English Premier League, the Champions League or La Liga. But that does not mean you should not be looking for as much detailed information as possible. 

Before placing a bet, check out a team's away record, their recent results, how well they have done against this opponent in the past, whether they are high or low scorers against top teams etc. A little extra preparation - checking the news, making use of statistics - could make all the difference.

What Not To Do

Spread Yourself Too Thin

Better to place one well-researched bet than five wagers that simply take your fancy. Do not try and spread yourself too thin. If you have watched more of Bray Wanderers and Waterford than Shamrock Rovers or Shelbourne, you can stick to what you know.

Expect Instant Success

Do not feel too low if you do not have instant success. Learn from your mistakes and constantly strive for improvement - that way, you are likely to be in the green in the long-term.

Chase Your Losses

Similar to the above, be careful not to chase your losses. If a couple of bets are unsuccessful, do not try and win the money back immediately. This can lead to rash decisions and is more likely to produce failure than success.

League of Ireland First Division Top Teams

History of the League of Ireland First Division

The League of Ireland First Division was formed in 1985, along with the Premier Division. It came about as the FAI embarked on restructuring the domestic game in the Republic of Ireland. The inaugural campaign featured 10 teams, with two winning automatic promotions to the top flight. The promotion/relegation play-off was introduced in 1992/93.

Most Successful Sides

Drogheda United are the most successful side in the history of the League of Ireland First Division, having finished on top of the pile on five occasions. 

They are followed in the all-time rankings by Waterford, who have won the league four times. UCD, Limerick and Bray Wanderers have been crowned First Division champions three times each. Athlone Town, Dundalk, Derry City, Shelbourne, and Sligo Rovers have each triumphed twice. Longford Town, Wexford Youths, Cork City, Cobh Ramblers, Shamrock Rovers, Finn Harps, Dublin City, Kilkenny City and Galway United have all finished top of the league table once.

League of Ireland First Division Best Players

Best Current Players

Cork City and Galway United are the two teams flying high towards the top of the table this season. Ally Gilchrist, Aaron Bolger and Matthew Srbely have been stalwarts for Cork, while Galway has relied on Diego Portillo, Conor O'Keeffe and Manu Dimas.

In historical terms, Con McLoughlin of Finn Harps finished as the League of Ireland First Division top scorer on no fewer than four occasions. Longford Town's David O'Sullivan notched 42 goals in 2013 and 2014 combined, while the Serbian striker Aleksandar Krstic became a cult hero at Derry City after scoring 18 goals in the First Division in 1986/87.

Betting on League of Ireland First Division Players

Match Betting

Football is a team sport, so it is no surprise that most of the popular markets concern teams as a whole - match winner, total goals, both teams to score and handicap scoreline, for instance. There are plenty of chances to bet on players, though. The most popular way is by predicting a goalscorer - typically divided into 'first', 'last' and 'anytime'. You might also have the opportunity to bet on player assists, player hat-tricks, player shots and player cards, although these options will not always be available for the League of Ireland First Division. There is also the chance to place combination wagers, such as Finn Harps to beat Longford Town and David Webster to find the back of the net anytime.

Player Outrights

We had a look at team outright markets above. It is also possible to place similarly long-term bets on individual footballers. One of the most popular choices revolves around the top scorer prize, which is given to the player that ends the season with the most goals. 

League of Ireland First Division FAQs

Is the League of Ireland First Division Professional?

The League of Ireland First Division is not professional. Even the Premier Division, the top flight of Irish football, contains part-time clubs. It is certainly possible for professional sides to play in the First Division, with at least one team relegated from the Premier Division every year. However, the relatively minimal finances on offer in the First Division mean that the vast majority of its sides will always be part-timers.

How Many Teams Get Promoted From the League of Ireland First Division?

The team that finishes top of the League of Ireland First Division is automatically promoted to the Premier Division. The sides that finish second, third, fourth and fifth enter the promotion play-offs, which begin with two-legged semi-finals followed by a one-off final. 

The winner of that final then goes through to the relegation/promotion play-off against the team that finished second-bottom of the Premier Division. The victor takes part in the top flight the following season, while the loser competes in the First Division. 

How Many Divisions Are There in the Irish Football League?

The Republic of Ireland football league pyramid consists of 12 tiers. The first is the League of Ireland Premier Division, followed by the First Division which we have looked at in this article. These two leagues are national, with clubs right across Ireland (including Derry City in Northern Ireland, making it a cross-border competition) permitted to enter.

The third level consists of three regional leagues: the Leinster Senior League, the Ulster Senior League and the Munster Senior League. A fourth provincial competition, the Connacht Senior League, is not currently active.

How Many Games Are In the League of Ireland First Division?

A total of 144 matches are played each season in the League of Ireland First Division. Each club faces every other side home and away, which totals 16 fixtures per team. The First Division previously featured 10 clubs and 180 games per campaign - and it could return to that level in the future.

How Much Do Professional Footballers Get Paid in Ireland?

No official figures are published on how many professional footballers get paid in Ireland. According to the internet, the average salary for a professional player is €39,427 before tax, but bear in mind this figure does not apply to First Division players, who almost always have secondary jobs alongside their football endeavours.

Football Expert
Greg lea
Greg Lea

Featured Football Writing Specialist

London-born Greg Lea specialises in football betting & football betting tips for the Premier League and the Champions League. 

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