Connacht Senior League (association football)

Last updated
Connacht Senior League
Country Flag of Ireland.svg Republic of Ireland
Region Flag of Connacht.svg Connacht
Level on pyramid3
Domestic cup(s) Connacht Senior Cup
League of Ireland Cup
FAI Cup
FAI Intermediate Cup
League cup(s)Connacht League Cup/Shield
Connacht Senior League Challenge Cup
Connacht Senior League Incentive Cup
Most championships Mervue United (8 titles)

The Connacht Senior League was an association football league featuring amateur, intermediate, and League of Ireland reserve teams affiliated to the Connacht Football Association. It was a third level league in the Republic of Ireland football league system. An earlier provincial league, the Western League, had been active, on and off, since the 1930s before the Connacht Football Association decided to establish a more permanent league. The CSL was active between 1981 and 2000. In 2013 discussions were held about relaunching the league.

Contents

History

Western League

The Connacht Football Association first established a provincial league in the 1930s. The Western League had a stop start history and was active up until the early 1970s. Galway, Sligo, Mayo and Roscommon organized their own qualifying rounds, using either a knock-out or round-robin format. The most successful team from this era was Galway Bohemians who were Western League champions on six occasions. Other participants in the Western League included Galway Rovers, Castlebar Celtic and Westport United. [1] [2] [3] [4]

1980s

The line-up for the inaugural 1981-82 Connacht Senior League, eventually won by Sligo Rovers Reserves First CSL.jpg
The line-up for the inaugural 1981–82 Connacht Senior League, eventually won by Sligo Rovers Reserves

In 1981–82 seven clubs – Mervue United, Sligo Rovers Reserves, Castlerea Celtic, Salthill Devon, Ballina Rovers, Tuam Celtic and UCG – formed the Connacht Senior League. Sligo Rovers were the inaugural champions while Mervue United won the following two titles. Ballinasloe Town joined during this time and Galway United reserves who also won two titles in a row after Mervues brace. In 1986 there was a proposal for the league to expand into a North West League. This idea was abandoned following the emergence of the Ulster Senior League however the potential financial strain of the North West league saw Castlerea Celtic and Ballina Rovers return to junior league status while Sligo Rovers had already pulled their reserve team in 1985 likely due to losses arising from their senior sides demotion to the League of Ireland First Division. After one season in 1986-87 which only consisted of six clubs, all from county Galway, membership started to improve with Mayo clubs Castlebar Celtic, Westport United and Ballina Town joining. Gentex of Athlone also joined for the 1987–88 season but withdrew in spring due to membership not being sanctioned by the Leinster Football Association. That same season also saw a Connacht Senior League XI take part in the League of Ireland cup generally appearing in a four team midwest group. [5]

1990s

The decade began with first titles for UCG followed by Salthill but with Tuam Celtic departing. Sligo Rovers Reserves rejoined after an attempt to join the Ulster Senior League was blocked by the Connacht FA and Mervue also rejoined after a two season absence beginning in 89 while Longford Town Reserves became the first new entrant in the nineties. [5] Salthill Devons title saw them become the first CSL champions to be invited to play in the League of Ireland Cup replacing the league XI who'd taken part previously. [6] [7] In 1992–93 Mervue United won a quartet, winning the league title, the Shield, the Connacht Senior Cup and the Connacht Senior League Challenge Cup. [8] This was followed by further membership increase including Gentex of Athlone rejoining with neighbours St.Peters followed by Straide & Foxford United and Galway Hibernians. A move to create two divisions began with the 1994–95 league split into two groups with the winner of each group meeting in a title play-off final. Newcomers Straide & Foxford United beat Castlebar Celtic 1-0 to become champions. The top three teams from the 1994–95 groups plus the winner of a play-off between the two fourth placed teams made up the Premiership for the 1995-96 season. UCG won the Premiership while Ballinasloe Town were the First Division winners. However the two division format was abandoned and the 1996–97 season saw the league revert to a single division and membership began to dwindle. Between 1996–97 and 1999–2000 Mervue United were league champions four times in a row but the league disbanded at this point when Mervue United and NUI Galway opted to enter the League of Ireland U21 Division and Castlebar Celtic decided to return to the Mayo Association Football League. [6] [7] [9]

Possible revival

In April 2013 discussions involving John Delaney and the Football Association of Ireland were held regarding reviving the Connacht Senior League. Representatives of thirteen clubs were invited to a meeting hosted by the Connacht Football Association at the McWilliam Park Hotel in Claremorris. The thirteen invited clubs included Westport United, Castlebar Celtic, Ballina Town, Salthill Devon, Mervue United, the Galway United Supporters’ Trust, NUI Galway, Sligo Rovers, St John's Athletic, Ballinsloe Town, Longford Town, Athlone Town and Willow Park. [10] It was suggested that Salthill Devon and Mervue United would play in the new Connacht Senior League after they dropped out of the League of Ireland First Division to make way for the new Galway United. [11] However, in June 2013 the Connacht Tribune reported that the plans were shelved due to a lack of sufficient interest from the clubs. The three League of Ireland clubs, Sligo Rovers, Athlone Town and Longford Town, favoured a summer league, while the organisers had proposed a September to May format. [12]

Cup competitions

In addition to playing in the Connacht Senior League, clubs from the league were also eligible to play in a number of cup competitions. When the league was formed in 1981–82, the organizers also introduced two cup competitions. Mervue United defeated Sligo Rovers Reserves in the final of the inaugural League Cup, a pre-season competition featuring two legs per round. In 1988–89 this competition was renamed the League Shield. The second cup competition was the Connacht Senior League Challenge Cup. This was played at the end of the season. Mervue United were the inaugural winners. In 1982–83 a third cup, the Incentive Cup, was introduced. It initially featured the two most improved sides who had failed to win another trophy. Tuam Celtic were the first winners. In 1989–90 the format was changed to include teams knocked out in the first round of the Challenge Cup. Castlebar Celtic became the first winners under the new format. In 1986–87 CSL teams, together with Ulster Senior League teams played in the one-off North West Cup. Galway United reached the final but lost to Derry City. Connacht Senior League teams also played in the Connacht Senior Cup and national cup competitions such as FAI Cup, the FAI Intermediate Cup and the FAI Junior Cup. From 1990–91 onwards, the CSL champions or best placed non-reserve team were also invited to play in the League of Ireland Cup. Salthill Devon, Castlebar Celtic and Mervue United all went on to play in this competition. [5] [6] [7]

Representative team

In 1983–84 a Connacht Senior League representative team played a Munster Senior League XI and lost 2–1. In 1986–87 the representative team defeated Munster and a Leinster Senior League XI in an Interprovincial series. Between 1987–88 and 1990–91 the representative team played in the League of Ireland Cup. On all four occasions they played in a regional group that also included Galway United's first team, Limerick and Newcastle West. [5] [7]

Teams

Participating clubs included the reserve teams of three League of Ireland clubs – Sligo Rovers, Galway United and Longford Town. The league also featured three future members of the A ChampionshipMervue United, Salthill Devon and Castlebar Celtic. The former two also played in the League of Ireland First Division. Nineteen different teams played in the league at one point or another. The majority came from Connacht but Leinster teams from bordering counties were also invited to join. The league's membership usually averaged between eight and ten clubs and peaked in the 1995–96 season when it featured fourteen clubs. Throughout its history the CSL suffered regularly from clubs dropping out and only two teams, Salthill Devon and UCG/NUI Galway featured every season.

TeamHome town/suburbGroundYears
Ballina Town Ballina, County Mayo Belleek Park1989–2000
Ballina Rovers Ballina, County Mayo 1981–1986
Ballinasloe Town Ballinasloe 1982–1997
Castlebar Celtic Castlebar Celtic Park 1987–2000
Castlerea Celtic Castlerea 1981–1986
Galway United Reserves Galway Terryland Park 1983–2000
Galway Hibernians Galway 1994–1996
Gentex Athlone 1987
1993–1998
Longford Town Reserves Longford Strokestown Road 1991–1993
1995–1997
Longford Celtic Longford 1995–1996
Manulla FCManulla, County Mayo 1997–1998
Mervue United MervueFahy's Field 1981–1989
1991–2000
Salthill Devon Salthill Drom Soccer Park 1981–2000
Sligo Rovers Reserves Sligo Sligo Showgrounds 1981–1985
1990–2000
Straide & Foxford United Foxford 1994–1999
St Peters Athlone 1993–2000
Tuam Celtic Tuam Celtic Park1981–1990
UCG/NUI Galway Galway Dangan1981–2000
Westport United Westport, County Mayo Sports Park1988–1995

[5] [6] [13]

List of winners

SeasonWinnerPlay-offRunners-up
1999–00 Mervue United NUI Galway
1998–99 Mervue United NUI Galway
1997–98 Mervue United NUI Galway
1996–97 Mervue United Straide & Foxford United
1995–96 UCG Straide & Foxford United
1994–95Straide & Foxford United1–0 [note 1] Castlebar Celtic
1993–94 Sligo Rovers Reserves 3–1 [note 2] Galway United Reserves
1992–93 Mervue United Sligo Rovers Reserves
1991–92 Sligo Rovers Reserves Castlebar Celtic
1990–91 Salthill Devon Sligo Rovers Reserves
1989–90 UCG Salthill Devon
1988–89 Castlebar Celtic Salthill Devon
1987–88 Galway United Reserves Castlebar Celtic
1986–87 Mervue United Galway United Reserves
1985–86 Galway United Reserves 4–3 [note 3] UCG
1984–85 Galway United Reserves Mervue United
1983–84 Mervue United 3–0 [note 4]

Salthill Devon

1982–83 Mervue United Sligo Rovers Reserves
1981–82 Sligo Rovers Reserves Mervue United
1973–74 Westport United DESCPO (Galway)
1970–71Gilrooly Rovers7–5 [note 5] Castlebar Celtic
1969–70Abbeyville (Sligo)
1967–68 Galway Bohemians 4–0Carraroe
1966–67Collegians6–0 Galway Bohemians
1960–61 Galway Bohemians Rovers
1949–50Sligo Celtic2–2 Galway Rovers [note 6]
1948–49 Galway Rovers
1947–48Sligo Stars7–1 Castlebar Celtic
1946–47 Galway Bohemians 7–1Roscommon Town
1939–40 Galway Bohemians
1938–39Galway Westport United [note 7]
1937–38 Galway Bohemians 5–3Sligo St Marys
1936–37 Galway Bohemians 2–1Sligo St Marys [note 8]

[5] [6]

Notes

  1. Play-off between two group winners
  2. Play-off after two teams finished level on points
  3. Play-off after two teams finished level on points
  4. Mervue United win title after three play-offs. The first two were both 2–2 draws
  5. Played over two legs
  6. No details of replay found
  7. Westport United did not appear
  8. Played in October 1937, heldover from previous season

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References

  1. Connacht Sentinel @ Irish Newspaper Archives
  2. Galway City Tribune @ Irish Newspaper Archives
  3. The Connaught Telegraph @ Irish Newspaper Archives
  4. Galway Advertiser Archives
  5. 1 2 3 4 5 6 "Connacht Senior League 1980s". www.connacht-sl.mythicvid.net. Retrieved 22 March 2015.
  6. 1 2 3 4 5 "Connacht Senior League 1990s". www.connacht-sl.mythicvid.net. Retrieved 22 March 2015.
  7. 1 2 3 4 "Ireland - Ireland League Cup 1973/74-2006". www.rsssf.com. Retrieved 23 March 2015.
  8. "Mervue United Club Role of Honour". www.mervueunited.com. Retrieved 23 March 2015.
  9. Galway Advertiser p.47; 25 April 1996 archive.advertiser.ie
  10. "Connacht Senior League to go ahead?". www.mayonews.ie. 16 April 2013. Retrieved 22 March 2015.
  11. "Mervue United swansong shines a light on FAI mismanagement". www.goal.com. 18 October 2013. Retrieved 22 March 2015.
  12. "Plans for new Connacht Senior League are temporarily shelved". connachttribune.ie. 13 June 2013. Retrieved 22 March 2015.
  13. "Connacht Senior League Tables". www.flickr.com. Retrieved 22 March 2015.