The new season of the SSE Airtricity League was announced at the Aviva Stadium yesterday with 33 games down for live TV coverage through the season on RTÉ and eir Sport.
RTÉ are installing additional cabling at the grounds around the league and will be packaging highlights and goals from each of the games into the live programme which will come from Dundalk this Friday evening as the Champions host Sligo Rovers.
This positive is balanced by the shortening to half an hour of the weekly Soccer republic programme with an emphasis on goals and highlights packages rather than studio analysis.
Other confirmed live games on Friday Night Soccer so far are Dundalk v Cork City on 29th March, Cork City v Shamrock Rovers on 5th April and Derry City v Shamrock Rovers on 19th April.
RTÉ also announced details of enhanced coverage as part of Saturday and Sunday sport on RTÉ Radio, online and through the RTÉ Soccer podcast hosted by Tony O’Donoghue and Adrian Eames.
“The new, enhanced Friday programme demonstrates our continued commitment to Irish soccer with 18 live games in total in a new three-hour time slot,” said RTÉ Head of Sport Declan McBennett.
eir Sport will announce details of their coverage later today.
Last season proved to be another memorable season as Dundalk claimed a historic double by lifting the SSE Airtricity League title and the FAI Cup, beating rivals Cork City, who finished second in the league and were beaten in the final.
Next season will see the return of UCD to the top flight after they lifted the SSE Airtricity League First Division title whilst Finn Harps bounced back after a play-off final victory over Limerick.
It is also set to be another crucial year for underage development as the SSE Airtricity National U13 League has its inaugural season in 2019. All SSE Airtricity League clubs will feature in the league as well as Kildare & District Underage League, Kerry League, Mayo League and Monaghan/Cavan FP, with the league set to begin in April.
Bohemians look set to compete in the UEFA Youth League once again next season after they beat rivals Shamrock Rovers in the U19 Final and Finn Harps were crowned U17 Champions. In its first full season, St. Patrick’s Athletic claimed a historic league and cup double in the National U15 League.
There was some confusion over one announcement at yesterday’s launch with the Northern Ireland Football League suggesting the FAI had been a little eager in announcing a new end of season competition between the Champions of the Leagues north and south of the border.
More detail on that is expected though to be confirmed following further discussion in the coming weeks.
“Dundalk had a fantastic campaign in 2018, clinching a fantastic double after one of the best FAI Cup finals in recent memory with over 30,000 at the Aviva Stadium. But, with so many clubs strengthening throughout the division, the pressure is on once again going into 2019,” said FAI Competitions Manager Fran Gavin.
“There is so much to be excited about, none more so than our new National U13 League which is set to get underway in April. We’ve seen fantastic success throughout our under-age sections and with the introduction of the National U13 League, the elite player pathway will be strengthened once again.”
“The youth development fund will continue to help clubs fund this progress, after its introduction last season. We’re currently seeing fantastic progress with projects at Finn Park, Drogheda, Glanmire in Cork, Dalymount Stadium and Tallaght Stadium with facility development crucial to the future of the league.”
“We’re delighted to have the continued support of our key sponsors, SSE Airtricity, Irish Daily Mail and EA SPORTS. Clubs are beginning to utilise their strategic plans and we’re seeing more longer-term contracts across the league which is fantastic. Attendances continued to grow last season and we’re positive we will continue to get stronger in 2018.”
“We’re proud to be Supporting Irish Football by sponsoring the League for the tenth year running,” said Aine Plunkett, SSE Airtricity Lead Marketing Manager.
“Our brand new creative campaign ‘Light Up Your Nights’ celebrates all that is brilliant and outstanding about the league – the players, the fans, the clubs and the local communities and as sponsors of the SSE Airtricity League, we are proud to be a part of it.”
Image Credit: Inpho.ie