Is Northern Ireland beautiful? Do Irish people speak Irish? And what exactly is Gaelic football? Read about Northern Ireland and find out!
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Northern Ireland is one of the four countries in the United Kingdom, with England, Scotland and Wales. It is to the north of the Republic of Ireland, on an island next to Great Britain. Around 1.8 million people live in Northern Ireland, which is about 3% of the population of the UK. The capital city is Belfast. Another name for Northern Ireland is ‘Ulster’ or ‘The Six Counties’ because it is made up of six regions or counties.
Nearly everyone in Northern Ireland speaks English. A small number of people speak Irish Gaelic, an old Celtic language which is very different from English. The other regional language is Ulster Scots, a variation of English which is spoken in Northern Ireland and is similar to Scots spoken in Scotland.
You can hear all types of music in Northern Ireland including traditional Irish music, jazz, rock or pop. In summer Belfast has music festivals like ‘Belsonic’ and ‘Tennents Vital’. Many international artists play at these festivals, including bands from Northern Ireland like ‘Snow Patrol’, ‘Ash’ and ‘Two door cinema club’.
Northern Ireland is a popular place to go walking or do outdoor activities such as mountain biking, coasteering (climbing up rocks and jumping into the sea) or zorbing (rolling down a hill in a giant PVC ball). Football, rugby, cricket, Gaelic football and hurling, a type of hockey, are all popular in Northern Ireland. Gaelic football is similar to rugby because players can touch and kick the ball. For most sports, Northern Ireland and the Republic of Ireland join together in the same team when they play in international competitions. However, football is different and Northern Ireland has its own football league. Some players from Northern Ireland play for teams in the English or Scottish leagues.
The best known dish from Northern Ireland is the 'Ulster Fry', which is bacon, eggs, sausages, and soda bread. Some versions include tomatoes, mushrooms or baked beans. It’s called the 'Ulster Fry' because everything is fried in a pan. It is also eaten with Irish potato bread.
St Patrick is the patron saint of Ireland and Northern Ireland. On March 17th St Patrick’s Day is a very important celebration in both Northern Ireland and the Republic of Ireland with parades, concerts, music and dancing. The shamrock is a green plant with three leaves which is the symbol of the Republic of Ireland and Northern Ireland.Worksheets and downloads Discussion
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The Northern Ireland Football League (commonly abbreviated to NIFL), also known as the Irish League,    is the national football league of Northern Ireland. It was formed in 2013 to assume independent collective management of the top three levels of the Northern Ireland football league system; namely the Premiership, Championship and NIFL Premier Intermediate League.
In addition to the league divisions, the NIFL also operates the Northern Ireland Football League Cup for its member clubs, as well as the NIFL Development League and George Wilson Cup for their reserve teams, and the NIFL Youth League and NIFL Youth League Cup for their youth teams. Operated as a limited company, the 36 member clubs act as shareholders with one vote each.   The NIFL is the successor to the Irish Football League, which was historically the league for the entire island of Ireland upon its formation in 1890; it became Northern Ireland's national league after the partition of Ireland in 1921.History [ edit ] Senior [ edit ]
Originally formed in 1890, the national football league of Northern Ireland is the second-oldest national league in the world, being formed a week earlier than the Scottish Football League. Only the English Football League is older. (The Dutch Football League formed properly on the same year as the Scottish and Irish leagues, making it the first league in Continental Europe. Although it did have two previous seasons, thus making it equal in duration with the EFL, these two seasons did not have an equal number of matches per club).
The Irish Football League was originally formed as the football league for all of Ireland (although initially all of its member clubs were in fact based in what would become Northern Ireland). It became the league for Northern Ireland in 1921 after partition, with a separate league and association (the Football Association of the Irish Free State – now called the Football Association of Ireland) – being formed for the Irish Free State (now the Republic of Ireland). The league's records from its days in operation as the league for all of Ireland stand as the records for Northern Ireland (as is the case for the Northern Ireland national football team).
In its first season, seven of the eight teams came from Belfast, and the league – and Irish football – continued to be dominated by Belfast clubs for many years. In 1892, Derry Olympic became the second non-Belfast side, but only lasted for one season. In 1900, Derry Celtic joined the league and, in 1901, a second Derry team, St Columb's Court, was added. St Columb's Court lasted just one season, before being replaced by the league's first Dublin team, Bohemians, in 1902. Another Dublin side, Shelbourne, was added in 1904. In 1911 Glenavon, from the County Armagh town of Lurgan replaced Bohemians, who resigned from the league, but were re-admitted in 1912. During 1912 there were three Dublin sides, with the addition of Tritonville, but, like Derry Olympic and St Columb's Court before them, they lasted just one season. Derry Celtic also dropped out in 1913, so that when the Irish League split in 1921, Glenavon was the only non-Belfast team left. No southern clubs (from what would become the Irish Free State and later the Republic of Ireland) ever won the championship. The highest place achieved by any of these clubs was second, by Shelbourne in 1906–07.
During the 1920s, however, the league expanded and soon achieved a wide geographic spread across Northern Ireland. Nonetheless, no club from outside Belfast won the League championship until Glenavon took it to Co. Armagh in 1951–52. In 1957–58, Ards became the first team from Co. Down to win the League, and in 1964–65, Derry City were the first Co. Londonderry club to do so. Derry City – now of the League of Ireland – played in the Irish League from 1929 until 1972 and won the title in 1965, but eventually resigned during the Troubles after the League voted narrowly to continue a ban on their home ground imposed by the security forces, even after the security forces had lifted it.
Historically, with relatively few league fixtures each season, the Irish League organised a number of other competitions for its members. While some of these enjoyed considerable prestige over the years, they have been phased out over the years due to fixture congestion caused by the expansion of the league, and reduced spectator interest. These competitions were: the City Cup; the Gold Cup; the Ulster Cup and the Irish League Floodlit Cup. In addition, clubs still compete in their respective regional cup competitions: the County Antrim Shield (for clubs within the jurisdiction of the North-East Ulster F.A., also known as the County Antrim & District F.A.); the Mid-Ulster Cup (for clubs within the jurisdiction of the Mid-Ulster F.A.); and the North West Senior Cup (for clubs within the jurisdiction of the North-Western F.A.).
From 1995–96 until 2002–03, the senior League was split into two divisions: the Premier Division and First Division. From 2003-16, there was a single division, albeit with relegation to intermediate leagues below, and from 2016 there are two senior divisions (Premiership and Championship). In 2003, the Irish Football Association took direct charge of Northern Ireland's top flight with the creation of the Irish Premier League (IPL). As in England and Scotland, the old Irish Football League retained a separate existence, but controlling only two feeder leagues: the First Division and Second Division. In 2004, the IFA took over control of the remaining IFL divisions and renamed them as the IFA Intermediate League First Division and Second Division, effectively winding up the Irish Football League after 114 years.
The first ever Irish League match to be broadcast live on television took place on 24 September 2007 when Sky Sports showed Cliftonville and Linfield draw 2–2 at Solitude. In 2008, the IFA took over responsibility for the Senior League under the name IFA Premiership, and the IFA Intermediate League was replaced by the IFA Championship.   After five years under the auspices of the IFA, it was decided to create a single Northern Ireland Football League to assume responsibility for all the national leagues from the 2013–14 season.
Crusaders are the current champions, after they secured the title for the fifth time in the club's history on 18 April 2015 - their first title since 1997.Intermediate [ edit ]
The NIFL Premier Intermediate League, as the highest-level of intermediate football in Northern Ireland, is the successor to the intermediate-status IFA Championship (2008-16), IFA Intermediate League (2004-08), the Irish Football League First Division (2003-04) during its last season (when it had intermediate status), and ultimately the Irish League B Division (latterly known as the Irish League Second Division).
The B Division of the Irish League was founded in 1951, and originally consisted of the reserve teams of the senior Irish League clubs alongside some of the top intermediate clubs. The B Division was split geographically into North and South sections in 1974 (with a play-off to determine the winners in 1974–75 and 1975–76), and then into Section 1 (containing the intermediate clubs) and Section 2 (the reserve teams of senior clubs) in 1977.
In 1999, the B Division Section 1 was renamed as the Irish League Second Division, and Section 2 became the Reserve League.
There was never any automatic promotion and relegation between either the B Division or Second Division and the senior Irish League.
In 2003, the Irish Premier League was formed by the top sixteen senior teams in the senior Irish League (which, since 1995 had been divided into a Premier Division and a First Division). The four remaining senior teams reverted to intermediate football, along with the top eight teams from the previous year's Second Division - in the Irish League First Division (which now became the top intermediate league), with the Second Division continuing with twelve teams. Automatic promotion and relegation between senior and intermediate football was introduced. There was also automatic promotion and relegation between the two divisions of the (now intermediate-status) Irish League.
In 2004, the Irish Football League was wound up and replaced by the IFA Intermediate League, consisting of two divisions of twelve, with promotion and relegation between the two. This continued for four seasons, until the Championship was created.
For one season only, 2008–09, there was also an IFA Interim Intermediate League for those former members of the IFA Intermediate League which had failed to meet the criteria for the Championship. These clubs were given a year to make improvements in order to join the Championship for 2009–10. Ten of the 12 clubs succeeded in meeting the necessary standard in 2009 and the Championship was then divided into two divisions.
In 2010–11, a pyramid system was introduced, with the possibility of promotion and relegation between Championship 2 and the four regional intermediate leagues, namely the:
Clubs in these leagues may only gain promotion to the Championship if they win their respective league championship and meet the necessary criteria. In the event that more than one league champion meets the criteria, only one will be promoted, to be decided by a play-off or series of play-offs.
In 2013, the Northern Ireland Football League assumed responsibility from the IFA for the Championship, which became two intermediate divisions of the NIFL and was renamed as the NIFL Championship.
In 2016, Championship 1 acquired senior status and Championship 2 was renamed as the Premier Intermediate League, thus succeeding the Championship as the top intermediate league in Northern Ireland.2016–17 membership [ edit ]
Listed below are the 36 member clubs for the 2017–18 season. UEFA coefficient and ranking [ edit ]
For the 2015–16 UEFA competitions, the associations were allocated places according to their 2014 UEFA country coefficients, which took into account their performance in European competitions from 2009–10 to 2013–14. In the 2014 rankings used for the 2015–16 European competitions, Northern Ireland's coefficient points total was 3.625 and was ranked by UEFA as the 47th best association in Europe out of 54 for the second consecutive season.
(number of senior titles)
James Percy (Cliftonville)
Joe McAllen (Linfield)
Richard Peden (Linfield)
Walter Allen (Portadown)
Dennis Guy (Glenavon)
Des Dickson (Coleraine)
Paul Malone (Ballymena United)
Gary Macartney (Glentoran)Irish Football League Premier & First Division (1995–2003) [ edit ]
(number of senior titles)
(number of second-level senior titles)Irish Premier League (2003–2008) [ edit ]
(number of senior titles)IFA Premiership (2008–2013) [ edit ]
(number of senior titles)NIFL Premiership (2013–2016) [ edit ]
(number of senior titles)NIFL Premiership & Championship (2016–) [ edit ]
(number of senior titles)
(number of second-level senior titles)Summary of champions [ edit ] Performance by club [ edit ]
Clubs in italics either no longer exist (Belfast Celtic, Queen's Island) or no longer compete for the title (Derry City).Total titles won by town or city [ edit ]
Twelve clubs have been champions, and the overwhelming majority have been from Belfast.Records [ edit ]
The first Irish League champions were Linfield, and the first runners-up were Ulster. Of the 114 completed championships, the title has only been taken out of Belfast on ten occasions. The last club to do so was Portadown in 2001–02. They are also the most successful provincial club, with four championships overall.
In 1961–62, Linfield famously achieved the feat of winning seven trophies: the Irish League; Irish Cup; City Cup, Gold Cup; Ulster Cup; County Antrim Shield; and North-South Cup. This was a repeat of a similar feat in 1921–22, when Linfield won the Irish League; Irish Cup; City Cup, Gold Cup; County Antrim Shield; Belfast Charities Cup and Alhambra Cup.
The record for consecutive titles is six, which has been achieved by two clubs. Belfast Celtic won five consecutive titles between 1935–36 and 1939–40, before the suspension of the league in 1940 due to World War II. On the resumption of the league in 1947–48 they won their sixth consecutive title, albeit eight years after the fifth. Linfield are the only club to achieve six consecutive titles without a hiatus, from 1981–82 to 1986–87. The longest gap between title wins is the 88 years separating Cliftonville's wins in 1909–10 and 1997–98. A total of 12 different clubs have won the championship, Linfield holding the record for the most wins (51).Tiebreakers [ edit ]
In the 1905–06 season, the championship title was shared after Cliftonville and Distillery could not be separated after two play-off matches. This is the only occasion in the league's history that the title has been shared. In the 1992–93 season, Linfield became the first club to win the championship on goal difference, when they finished level on 66 points with Crusaders, but eight goals better with a +34 goal difference to Crusaders' +26.
Before goal difference was introduced, if the top two teams finished the season with the same number of points, the championship title was decided by a play-off. Nine such championship play-offs took place over the years as follows:Unbeaten seasons [ edit ]
On seven occasions, a team has completed a league campaign unbeaten. Linfield have done so four times, but with fewer fixtures relative to Belfast Celtic's unbeaten seasons in 1926–27 and 1928–29. Glentoran were the last club to achieve an unbeaten league season, when they won the 1980–81 Irish League title by two points after completing 22 league games without defeat. They again came close in the 1991–92 Irish League season, losing only once in 30 league games. Linfield also came close in the 2003–04 Irish Premier League season, when they too lost just one league game all season. Between 2005–06 and 2006–07, Linfield lost just two league games in two seasons - one in each season.Senior club membership history [ edit ]
A total of 46 different clubs have been members of the senior league since its inception - ten of which have been members for only one season. The newest members are Warrenpoint Town, who joined the league in 2013 for the first time. That was the second consecutive season that a new member club had made its first appearance in the league, following Ballinamallard United's debut a year earlier in 2012. Three clubs – Cliftonville, Glentoran and Linfield – have retained unbroken membership since 1890: 126 years and 115 seasons (due to eleven suspended seasons).
In 1891, the league expanded to ten clubs, but shrank again after only one season to six clubs for the 1892–93 season. Only four clubs competed in 1892–93 and 1893–94, then six clubs for the following season, until a membership of eight was achieved for the 1901–02 season. With the exception of one season (1912–13) in which there were ten clubs, membership stayed at eight until the southern clubs resigned in 1920, anticipating the formation of the separate League of Ireland in what would become the Irish Free State. (The League was suspended from 1915 to 1919 because of the First World War.) Prior to the split, three southern clubs had participated in the League: Bohemians, Shelbourne and Tritonville. In the early years, Army regiments stationed in Ireland had also participated in the League: the Lancashire Fusiliers in 1891–92; the North Staffordshire Regiment for three seasons from 1896–99; the Royal Scots in 1899–00 and the King's Own Scottish Borderers in 1903–04.
Only five and six clubs competed in 1920–21 and from 1921–23 respectively, but expansion began with the admission of four new clubs in 1923, another two in 1924 and a further two in 1927, giving a membership of fourteen from 1927 until the League was suspended in 1940 because of the Second World War. When the League resumed in 1947 it was reduced to twelve clubs, and stayed at this number until 1983 when membership was increased to fourteen.
In 1990, a further two clubs brought the membership to sixteen, and the League was divided into two divisions (the Premier and First Divisions) of eight in 1995, with promotion and relegation between the two. In 1996 the results from the Premier Division and the First Division started to be featured on the Press Association vidiprinter. In 1997, membership increased again to eighteen, with ten in the Premier Division and eight in the First Division. Between 1999 and 2003, the League had a record twenty clubs in membership. From 1999 to 2002, ten clubs each competed in the Premier and First Divisions and in 2002–03 there were twelve in the Premier Division and eight in the First Division.
In 2003, with the creation of the Irish Premier League, the senior league was reduced to a single division of sixteen clubs, although for the first time with relegation to, and promotion from, a league below (a rump Irish Football League in 2003–04 and subsequently the IFA Intermediate League). In 2008, with the creation of the IFA Premiership, the league was reduced to twelve. The Northern Ireland Football League was formed in 2013 to assume independent collective management of the top three levels of the Northern Ireland football league system, which had been under the direct management of the Irish Football Association: namely the IFA Premiership and both divisions of the IFA Championship. Membership summary [ edit ]
Listed below are all the senior League members from 1890 up to and including the 2017–18 season in the following competitions:
Bold – a current member
Italics – a club no longer in existence, or no longer competing in Northern Irish footballRelegation and promotion history [ edit ]
Between 1995–96 and 2002–03, the league was split into two divisions, with promotion and relegation between the two as follows.
At the end of the 2002–03 season, the league was reformed as the single-division Irish Premier League. Four clubs were relegated to intermediate football, and from then until 2014-15 there was relegation and promotion between a single senior Irish League division and the top intermediate league below (now NIFL Championship).
At the end of the 2015–16 season, the Championship acquired senior status and the league reverted to two senior divisions, with promotion and relegation between those divisions, and betweeb the second senior tier (the Championship) and the top intermediate division below (now NIFL Premier Intermediate League).Intermediate [ edit ] List of champions [ edit ] Irish League B Division (1951–1977) [ edit ]
(number of intermediate titles)Irish League B Division Section 1 (1977–1999) [ edit ]
(number of intermediate titles)Irish League Second Division (1999–2003) [ edit ]
(number of intermediate titles)Irish League First & Second Division (2003–04) [ edit ]
(number of intermediate titles)
(number of second-level intermediate titles)IFA Intermediate League First & Second Division (2004–2008) [ edit ]
(number of intermediate titles)
(number of second-level intermediate titles)IFA Championship & Interim Intermediate League (2008–09) [ edit ]
(number of intermediate titles)
(number of second-level intermediate titles)IFA Championship 1 & 2 (2009–2013) [ edit ]
(number of intermediate titles)
(number of second-level intermediate titles)NIFL Championship 1 & 2 (2013–2016) [ edit ]
(number of intermediate titles)
(number of second-level intermediate titles)NIFL Premier Intermediate League (2016–) [ edit ]
(number of intermediate titles)
‡ Promoted to senior footballSummary of champions [ edit ] Knock-out competitions [ edit ]
In 1982, a knock-out competition for members was introduced, known as the B Division Knock-out Cup and sponsored by Smirnoff. It was discontinued after 2002, but a new IFA Intermediate League Cup was played between 2004 and 2008, sponsored in its first season by the Daily Mirror and thereafter by Carnegie. In 2008–09, there was no knock-out competition for Championship clubs, who participated with Premiership clubs in the Irish League Cup. In the 2009–10 season only, however, while Championship 1 clubs continued to participate in the Irish League Cup, a Championship 2 League Cup was inaugurated for those in Championship 2. From 2010–11 onwards, all Championship clubs from divisions 1 and 2 also competed in the Irish League Cup, and the Championship 2 League Cup was abolished.Summary of winners [ edit ] Notes [ edit ]
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