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Dundalk won the league title in dramatic circumstances on this day 20 years ago

A good omen for tomorrow’s top-of-the-table clash with Cork City?

Updated at 20.20

James Coll Dundalk 1995 James Coll captained Dundalk to their ninth Premier Division title in 1995. Source: © INPHO/Billy Stickland

DUNDALK WERE CROWNED champions of Ireland last season following a memorable victory at Oriel Park on the final day on the campaign.

It was something Lilywhites’ fans had experienced before; on this day in 1995, in fact, when the club had last clinched the title before returning to the summit of the League of Ireland at Cork City’s expense back in October.

Heading into the final round of games in the 1994/95 season, Dundalk were level with Shelbourne on points but they both trailed leaders Derry City by one. The Candystripes merely needed to defeat lowly Athlone Town — who had already been condemned to a relegation play-off — at St Mel’s Park to become champions.

As the three-way battle for supremacy on the final day suggests, the 94/95 campaign was one of the most competitive in recent memory. Jimmy Magee: “The championship has had more leaders than a Banana Republic.”

With ex-Roscommon Gaelic football goalkeeper Shane Curran saving a penalty, Athlone managed to hold Derry to a 1-1 draw. Donal Golden gave Athlone the lead after just 13 seconds, Liam Coyle equalised for the visitors, but Felix Healy’s side failed to find a second goal that would have secured the silverware.

Shelbourne could only manage a 1-1 draw with St Patrick’s Athletic at Tolka Park, while Galway United kept Dundalk scoreless at Oriel Park — until Tom McNulty opened the scoring for the hosts in the 75th minute, before Mick Doohan netted to seal a 2-0 win.

Table

Even as the full-time whistle sounded, however, Dundalk still weren’t quite sure if they had done enough to win the Bórd Gáis National League Premier Division title.

Derry were still laying siege to the Athlone Town goal at St Mel’s Park, but with the Dundalk fans congregating on the pitch at Oriel Park, the celebrations finally started as news filtered through that they were champions for the first time since 1991.

It was a remarkable achievement for Dermot Keely’s Dundalk side. Earlier in the season, financial problems very nearly forced the club out of business.

The quality might not be the best, but the footage of RTÉ’s coverage available on YouTube makes for pretty gripping viewing…

Source: guisasaigon/YouTube

Source: guisasaigon/YouTube

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Paul Dollery

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