Five reasons you should go to at least one League of Ireland game this year

The 2013 Airtricity League season kicks-off off today and Alan Smith tells us why we should go and take a look at what's on offer this season.

Five reasons you should go to at least one League of Ireland game this year

The 2013 Airtricity League season kicks-off off today and Alan Smith tells us why we should go and take a look at what's on offer this season

1 You’ll see goals like these

Last season saw some absolute belters hit the net. The four-minute clip below highlights eight of the best – but keep an eye out for Chris Forrester (St Pat’s) at home to Shamrock Rovers, and Mark Griffin ‘doing a Bergkamp’ for Dundalk against Louth rivals Drogheda United.

‘Goals of the season 2012’

2 The next big thing is out there

OK, we know the Irish national side aren’t exactly on fire at the moment – let’s be honest, there’s barely a spark there at times – but in the last squad, for February’s friendly win over Poland, there were nine players who learned their trade in the League of Ireland before moving across the water.

It’s inevitable that at least a couple of young starlets will court interest and eventually make the move to England each season – so get to your nearest ground and perhaps you’ll be able to boast of seeing Ireland’s next crop before those pesky barstoolers have even heard of him.

3 The players are approachable

There are no superstars in this league – how could there be when most players are being paid very average wages? – so unlike the Premier League players thousands of you laud every week on their TV screen, the bulk of LoI stars are as friendly as can be.

And although they might not be in a nearby pub after every game anymore like days gone by, social media means you can get in contact with some of them more than ever.

You can view a handy list of who’s online here.

4 The managers are nuts

Roddy Collins doesn’t need a description, but if for some reason you’re not familiar with the new Athlone Town boss, take a look at the clip below.

“I will survive,” he sang, weeks before Monaghan United disappeared off the face of the League of Ireland. He is, without sounding hyperbolic, a box office smash wherever he goes and his comments will surely garner much attention even from the First Division.

‘Roddy Collins – I will survive’

5 The fans are much more colourful than cross-channel and definitely more entertaining than Billy No Mates in the pub

There’s no point fooling ourselves here: many clubs in the league struggle with numbers. But what they lose out on in terms of capacity, LoI fans make up for in colour, noise and sheer brilliant wit.

Fans aren't priced out of going to ever game either, with some clubs charging €10 for an evening of top entertainment. Some are knowledgable, and some are absolute lunatics - but it's a wide and accepting church, brimful of characters.

For 2013 there is also an added bonus because fans will now be able to go on an away trip to a world class ground in Thomond Park. Newly promoted Limerick are lodging there for the season while their old home Markets Field is being revamped. Thomond will have a full bar service, TVs on the concourse and decent food.

[comment]From the top of the country: Derry City supporter Michael Barr at last year's FAI Ford Cup Final against St Pat's at the Aviva. Pic: Matt Browne/SPORTSFILE[/comment]

[comment]...right down to the bottom of the island: Cork City supporters at the recent Setanta Sports Cup quarter-final against Crusaders at Turner's Cross. Pic: Diarmuid Greene / SPORTSFILE[/comment]

[comment]And all places in between: Shamrock Rovers supporters. Pic: Diarmuid Greene/SPORTSFILE[/comment]

‘The league’s number one fan: Tom. Coming to a ground near you soon’

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