The Bus Éireann Women's National League will commence on Sunday, 13 November 2011. The six clubs who have been invited to compete in the league are this season's UEFA Women's Champions League participants Peamount United, Castlebar Celtic FC, Cork Women's FC, Raheny United, Shamrock Rovers and Wexford Youths Women's AFC. The winner of the league qualifies to the 2012/13 UEFA Women's Champions League. This season's final will be played on Thursday, 17 May 2012 in Munich.
The Republic of Ireland has become the latest country in Europe to launch a national women's football league, with UEFA's support. The Football Association of Ireland (FAI) was one of the four member associations to benefit from the UEFA women's football development pilot phase in 2010/11, the other three being Italy, Portugal and Slovakia.
Speaking at the launch today, Steffi Jones, UEFA's Women's Football Development Programme Ambassador said, "Starting a national league is an essential step for women's football development in the Republic of Ireland. Playing in club competitions is the gateway to A-team football and ensures a stable future for women's football, as well as an incentive for girls around the country."
FAI League Director, Fran Gavin said, "Today's launch marks a new era for women's football in Ireland. For the first time, the Bus Éireann Women's National League will bring together our best players, coaches and officials to a national stage as we build a platform for women's football to thrive at home. This league will be given the same focus and priority as the Airtricity League and we will apply the same principles of competition, integrity and fairness across the board to every club involved."
Bus Éireann CEO Martin Nolan added, "The Bus Eireann Women's National League will be a really important and long awaited development for everyone involved in Irish football and through our support we look forward helping the FAI provide a crucial piece of the development pathway that will ultimately help our international teams source a rich new vein of talent. Bus Éireann is at the heart of communities throughout the country and as the League expands over the next number of years, we believe that more and more communities will benefit from this exciting journey for women's football."