Rivervalley Rangers’ last act in the AUL was to win the RPD Cup last weekend. Picture: Rivervalley Rangers

Rivervalley Rangers are leading the latest exodus of clubs from the AUL joining the ranks of the Leinster Senior League this summer.

The Swords side are one of four sides who will call the LSL home from the beginning of next season along with East Wall Rovers, Columbas Rovers and St Michael’s.

The Athletic Union League, once the largest amateur football league in the country, has been decimated in recent seasons by yearly defections to its rival league.

The widening of the gap between junior and intermediate football, allied to Sheriff YC’s near-dominance of its major trophies in recent seasons, has lessened the appeal of the AUL.

Underage structures are better in the LSL and provides a more attractive pathway for ambitious clubs, while the writing seems to be on the wall for the ailing AUL.

Last summer saw eight clubs, including Kilbarrack United, Ayrfield United and Castleknock Celtic, make the switch from AUL to LSL in search of a higher standard of football.

The previous year saw Collinstown and St Kevin’s Boys make the same journey in pursuit of intermediate football, and both Collinstown and Kilbarrack have since achieved that aim.

For Rivervalley assistant manager Declan Eivers, the issues with the AUL aren’t just football-related but also due to the general administration of the league.

Sunday’s RPD Cup final against St Michael’s was Rivervalley’s first game in five weeks, when they wrapped up their league campaign, while Michael’s also hadn’t played since May.

The reason for the delay was another club’s appeal against a result earlier in the competition, which eventually had to be mediated by the Leinster Football Association.

“We had to wait five weeks from our last game because there was an appeal in for a team supposedly playing bangers,” Eivers told the Dublin Gazette.

“It had to go to the AUL; then they appealed and it had to go to the LFA and there was talk of it going to the FAI but it never went that far.

“It’s been one thing after another with the AUL over the past few years. We want a fresh start in the Leinster Senior League.”

Additionally, the annual exodus of clubs has seen authorities scrambling to make up the numbers in the different leagues, meaning teams are often promoted without earning it on the pitch.

Rivervalley have been beneficiaries of this in the past, first when they were bumped up from Sunday Division 1 to Premier B, and again last season.

Having been relegated from Premier A, they were granted a reprieve before the league relegated them on the eve of kick-off after forfeiting a game in a pre-season tournament.

“We don’t feel in the AUL you have to earn anything. Raheny were second from bottom in Premier B and they went up to Premier A. It’s been like that in the AUL for the past few years.

“Basically, teams were getting promoted from ridiculous positions. There’s too many teams leaving the AUL.”

Leaving the league means the club will no longer play games at the AUL Complex, meaning they’re likely to start next season back in Rivervalley, where an all-weather facility is close to completion.