A while ago I did an article ranking the grounds in the SSE Airtricity League Premier Division.
At the beginning of that very article I said I would rank the grounds in the First Division.
So, here it is, I will never let down my five fans out there.
Probably not my most showbiz introduction to an article this so let’s just get straight in with no kissing.
Just a heads up before we do start Shamrock Rovers II won’t be included here. Spoiler alert but Tallaght Stadium topped my Premier Division ranking. If I were to throw Shamrock Rovers II in here it would just top it again and there is no fun in that.
Also, we will be taking the same things into consideration. That’s the interior of the ground and facilities. Things like location, parking and stewards didn’t sway the decision-making process.
It has a bar in it, so it has the number one spot in my heart if that’s any consolation to Cabo fans.
Unfortunately, that doesn’t make up for the fact that it doesn’t have any seats or a bit of shelter from the conditions we are known for on these shores.
Cabinteely share the ground with the rugby team of Blackrock College. As you can imagine this can cause the pitch to have its issues during certain parts of the season.
There are these planks that you can stand on to get a better view of the action. Probably not the best main stand you will ever see.
Again, I can’t stress this enough, the bar is a nice touch.
UCD Bowl (UCD)
Another small venue that is used as both a football and rugby ground by the college.
I will say it’s a step up from the old Belfield Park. Improved fencing, general facilities and floodlights were all added.
I will also admit as a Dub I don’t mind visiting the ground when my team are playing out that way.
However, it’s literally just a stand. One stand full of these weird child booster seats for the fans to sit in. The stand isn’t even fully covered with either side of the stand open to the whatever weather is due that day.
Little safety warning for any travelling away fans, don’t go into the first entrance as you go through the turnstiles. That’s where the mighty UCD firm stand, last group of riff raff you want to get tangled up with.
This didn’t come into consideration but the student bar around the corner is a good cheap spot for the drinkers reading.
Ferrycarrig Park (Wexford)
Another addition to the one stand club is Ferrycarrig Park in Kitestown, Wexford.
In fairness the pop-up main stand is completely covered, and it can seat up to 450 people, but it doesn’t even go the full length of the pitch.
The rest of the ground is an opening standing area fans to get up close to the game.
The clubhouse is the crown jewel of the ground. I’ve never went in but apparently it can offer some good views of the ground and provides a decent bit of grub.
They also have a cracking junior set up available on site with several all-weather pitches behind the goal.
Carlisle Grounds (Bray Wanderers)
I really didn’t want to put this one so low down.
Bray is probably my favourite away day with the lads. Again, as a Dub it’s handy enough to get to and can have a laugh on the DART. Bray itself is also a bit of craic and you could head out a few hours before the game and not be stuck for something to do.
However, if we are going to put Wexford this low for having just the one pop-up stand, Bray must be down here too.
Their main stand is a bit better as it covers the either length of the pitch. The away end also has a decent amount of seating but is open.
In Bray that can be a nightmare as it’s the coldest ground in the whole of League of Ireland.
United Park (Drogheda United)
While I wanted to put the Carlisle Ground higher, I wanted to put this place lower.
What absolute mental case designed this ground. It’s the most oddly put together ground you are likely to see in a long time.
Yes, all the stands are covered which is sound in Ireland, but they are just organised in a way that is so disjointed it’s very jarring to even look at.
The main stand is grand and has a good amount of seating but isn’t fully covered.
But the whole lay out of the place and the basic away stand does really let the place down.
I really hope the person that planned out this eye sore isn’t working in that industry anymore.
Also, Hunky Dory Park was a far superior name, miss that.
Athlone Town Stadium (Athlone Town)
The final member of the one stand club is Athlone Town.
While there literally is only one stand in the ground, it’s miles better than the likes of UCD, Wexford and Bray.
The main stand really wouldn’t be out of place up in the Premier Division, but we won’t be seeing that anytime soon.
The rest of the ground can be used for standing but is uncovered, stand at your own risk.
The overall facilities and decent enough too and the new all-weather pitch are at a good standard too.
The whole place really is held together by the brilliant main stand. Not much else to really go into beyond that, decent place to visit just outside a great town too.
St. Colman’s Park (Cobh Ramblers)
The third best ground in the First Division in my own humble opinion is the home of Cork side, Cobh Ramblers.
We will start with the main stand. It’s fully seated, fully covered and goes the whole length of the pitch. While it’s far from the biggest one in the league it’s still comfortable and just what you want in a main stand. It can seat up to 900 people.
They also have a stand behind the goal. Once again, it’s fully seated and covered. A great little stand to have behind the goal that can comfortable seat up to 450 fans.
While they are the only two sides that have seating and shelter, the rest of the open area is spacious enough for the most part if fans want to stand, weather permitting.
General facilities are also decent enough too.
It’s a good tight ground. While it’s nothing spectacular in terms of grounds in the First Division it’s on the better end of the spectrum.
Bishopsgate (Longford Town)
It was a close enough shout between the top two grounds.
The home of Longford Town certainly does have its perks.
It’s the only ground in the First Division that is all seating for a start. Bishopsgate is only one of the two grounds that can say that in the whole League of Ireland with Turner’s Cross being the other. Two great grounds that we could possibly see in the First Division next season.
Longford also have a very good main stand at their disposal and is a large size. Most of the seats all over the ground are also in good condition. This is another ground with good facilities for everyone that visits.
The big thing that can be looked at as a downside is the fact only one stand is covered, that being the main stand. The other three are open to the elements which we can’t stress enough can be a disaster in Ireland.
That’s probably the only real thing that lets it down. The location can be a hassle to get to, but location wasn’t a factor in my thinking for this.
A ground I would like to see back in the top tier sooner rather than later.
Eamonn Deacy Park (Galway United)
Galway take the top spot in the rankings I say they are delighted.
It’s home to the best main stand in the First Division and another one that belongs in the Premier Division.
While only two sides are seated and covered, they are up to a great standard.
As I said the main stand is brilliant and can hold up to 1,500 passionate supporters. The stand on the other side of the ground is also fully seated and covered. While its not as big as the main stand it does go the full length of the pitch and brings the overall seating capacity to 3,300.
Galway is a club that I would personally love to see back in the Premier Division. They have a well-equipped ground and a great fanbase.
Really for an away day or weekend there is arguably no better place in Ireland than Galway and there is no better ground in the First Division than Eamonn Deacy Park.