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Dublin: 12 °C Monday 21 May, 2018

11 reasons why you should go watch the Airtricity League this season

The new season starts tomorrow evening so grab a warm coat, a flask of tea and head down to your local club.

1. The players

YOU’RE GETTING THE chance to see Irish football’s promising young talents cutting their teeth in senior football. Every one of this lot below went on to earn Ireland caps at senior level after enjoying careers in the League of Ireland.

Wes Hoolahan (Norwich City, ex-Shelbourne)

Credit: INPHO/Lorraine O’Sullivan

Seamus Coleman (Everton, ex-Sligo Rovers)

Credit: INPHO/Lorraine O’Sullivan

Kevin Doyle (Wolves, ex-Cork City & St Patrick’s Athletic)

Credit: INPHO/Lorraine O’Sullivan

James McClean (Sunderland, ex-Derry City)

Credit: INPHO/Presseye/Lorcan Doherty

Keith Fahey (Birmingham City, ex-St Patrick’s Athletic)

Credit: INPHO/James Crombie

2. The goals

You’ll see some genuine belters. Here are two of last season’s best finishes:

Mark Griffin (Drogheda v Dundalk)

YouTube credit: Stephen Durnin

Chris Forrester (St Patrick’s Athletic v Shamrock Rovers)

YouTube credit: stpatsfctv

3. The fans

No, this is definitely NOT one…

YouTube credit: Peter O’Doherty

These, on the other hand, are:

Credit: INPHO/Margaret McLaughlin

Credit: INPHO/James Crombie

Credit: INPHO/Ciaran Culligan

Credit: INPHO/Donall Farmer

4. The mascots

Corky the Cheetah (Cork City)

Credit: Facebook

Hooperman (Shamrock Rovers) & Rocky the Seagull (Bray Wanderers)

Credit: INPHO/Donall Farmer

Dennis the Menace (Bohemians)

Credit: INPHO

5. The grounds

Although the standard of stadiums could be better in this country, recent years have witnessed some improvements.

Thomond Park (Limerick)

Credit: INPHO/James Crombie

Belfield Bowl (UCD)

Credit: INPHO/Cathal Noonan

Tallaght Stadium (Shamrock Rovers)

Credit: INPHO/Lorraine O’Sullivan

6. Being so close to the action

Due to the small size of the grounds, you’re that near to the players you can almost touch them. On the odd occasion, you might even get lucky…

Credit: INPHO

7. The characters

Meet Tom – one of the most hardcore LOI  supporters you’ll come across. Anyone seen him around lately?

YouTube credit: showgieys

Love him or loathe him, Roddy’s back. This time he’ll be hoping to emulate Monaghan’s success in the First Division by getting Athlone Town promoted.

Credit: INPHO/James Crombie

8. The memories

Who recalls Tony Sheridan’s wonder goal against Sligo Rovers in the 1996 FAI Cup semi-final? Class.

YouTube credit: retroloi

9. The interaction with players

10. The location

Sure it’s only down the road.

Credit: INPHO/James Crombie

11. The whole package

At €15 and half that for children, it’s cheap as chips (which you can also get at most grounds). And with a summer of football ahead, is it not the perfect way to spend your Friday evenings?

What do you enjoy most about supporting the League of Ireland? Let us know below.

‘We want to win every competition… including the Champions League’ – Sligo Rovers boss Ian Baraclough

60 Twitter accounts you should follow before the Airtricity League season kicks off

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About the author:

Ben Blake

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