The Lead Story – Are LOI fans getting the better deal?


Midway through the second half of Monday Night Football my mind wandered to a letter which was published in Seamus Duke’s column last week. The letter was sent to Seamus by a League of Ireland fan called Mike who I know to be a passionate Shamrock Rovers fan. In his letter he extolled the virtues of supporting local football while using a recent trip to Tallaght Stadium as an example. As I watched Paul Pogba gift possession to Crystal Palace for the umpteenth time, I was beginning to see his point.

  English football has long been a huge favourite among Irish sports fans and an allegiance has developed between fans and clubs such as Manchester United, Liverpool, Arsenal and even Leeds United. The quality of football was always far superior to what the League of Ireland had to offer and therefore, when faced with the choice, the majority of punters chose the warm barstool or armchair over a cold terrace. Why travel to dilapidated grounds in Phibsborough, Tallaght, Athlone or even Longford when you could watch the so-called ‘best league in the world’ from your living room?

  Recently however I’ve noticed a shift amongst Irish football fans; they’ve grown weary of the overpaid prima donnas of the Premier League and they now want the live experience of actually being there. A number of close friends of mine can be found in the Jodi Stand in Dalymount, at Tallaght Stadium and Richmond Park in Inchicore on Friday evenings throughout the year. One hardcore Bohemians fan, who would also have been a huge Man United fan, has taken the boat to exotic locations like Wales and Belgium to see his team play and says if push came to shove, it would be no contest between Old Trafford and Dalymount Park.

  While the vast majority of fans will still sit down to watch the hugely over-hyped ‘Rivalry Weekend’ on Sky Sports, people like my friend at Dalymount and Mike in Tallaght will be active participants at League of Ireland matches up and down the country. After sitting through Monday’s first half and with the most recent game between Liverpool and Man United still fresh in my mind, it can now be argued that those dedicated Irish soccer fans are getting more out of their live football experience than the average digital TV subscriber.