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Dublin: 14 °C Wednesday 27 May, 2020

Six of the most dramatic final days in the League of Ireland

The League of Ireland has had its fair share of last day drama.

In 2006 it was Shelbourne who claimed the trophy on the final day.
In 2006 it was Shelbourne who claimed the trophy on the final day.
Image: Donall Farmer/INPHO

THIS FRIDAY EVENING will see the culmination of the 2014 League of Ireland season as Dundalk host Cork City in a title deciding clash. After a slip up last Friday Dundalk now find themselves two points behind the Rebel Army meaning nothing less than a victory is needed to secure their first league title in 19 years.

A sold-out Oriel Park will be there to witness the first final day of the season league decider since Shamrock Rovers clinched the title in 2010. Here we have a look at some of the most memorable final day deciders down the years.

1. Dundalk snatch title from City

In April 1991 it was Dundalk who met Cork City on the final day of the season with both sides in the hunt for the title. 23 years Turner’s Cross played host to a Rebel Army-Lilywhites clash that saw Turlough O’Connor’s side pull off a famous victory to take the league title from under the noses of Cork.

After losing star striker Tony Cousins to Liverpool earlier in the season Dundalk surprised many by featuring in the title race at all, let alone winning it. The Lilywhites made the trip south that day trailing Cork by two points and knowing that nothing less than a victory would suffice to bring the league title back north for the eighth time in their history.

Despite the importance of the game however it turned out not to be the most exciting spectacle. Dundalk fans weren’t to mind though as a 73rd minute strike from Tom McNulty secured a single goal victory and with it the title.

Source: DFCTV/Vimeo

2. Shels’ late slip up allows Pat’s to capitalise

It was all going the way of Shelbourne until the very last day in 1998 when a 2-1 defeat to Dundalk gave Dublin rivals St. Pat’s the chance to get their hands on the trophy. It was a chance that The Saints took in dramatic fashion when a deflected Eddie Gormley strike was enough to send the travelling fans wild.

It was enough to give Pat Dolan’s side a 2-1 victory over Kilkenny City at Buckley Park and with it their seventh league title. They would then go on and make it eight the following year.

Pat Dolan Pat Dolan celebrates with a fan in a magnificent cap. Source: Billy Stickland/INPHO

3. Bohs end 23 year drought

The 2000/2001 season was another tale of a Shelbourne collapse allowing a Dublin rival to win the title. This time it was Bohemians who took home the honours thanks to a comprehensive win over Kilkenny City.

With eight games to go it had looked as if the league title would be making its way to Tolka Park as Shels were 12 points clear. However, seven wins in their remaining eight games meant that it was Bohemians who would claim their first title in 23 years.

Going into the final game of the season the Phibsborough side trailed their Northside counterparts by two points meaning nothing less than a win would do. Roddy Collins’ side certainly did that as they cruised to a 5-0 win, partly thanks to a brace from Glen Crowe which gave the Dubliner the record of the most League of Ireland goals in one season. Bohs would go on to complete the double a week later with an FAI Cup final win over Longford Town.

The Boh's players celebrate DIGITAL Bohs players celebrate their eighth league win. Source: Andrew Paton/INPHO

4. Home advantage helps Cork to victory

2005 was the last time that the title challengers came up against each other on the final day and, just like this coming Friday, the game involved Cork City. Derry went into the game three points ahead of City and needing only a draw to secure the title.

However a sold out Turner’s Cross roared Cork on to a famous 2-0 victory and the league title won, in the end, won by just four goals. The home side were 2-0 up within 16 minutes thanks to goals from John O’Flynn and Liam Kearney. The Rebel Army managed to hold on and complete the victory along with their first title since 1993.

Only for a 2-0 defeat to Drogheda United in the cup final a week later Cork would have completed the double.

Cork City's Liam Kearney celebrates scoring the second goal 18/11/2005 Liam Kearney celebrates Cork City's second goal. Source: ©INPHO

5. Shels beat Bohs to claim 13th title

The 2006 season was another that came right down to the wire with only goal difference separating the top two teams after the final games. Shelbourne and Derry City both went into the final day on 59 points with Shels coming up against Dublin rivals Bohemians in Tolka Park while Derry hosted Cork City.

Shels began the game nervously and went 1-0 down as a result of a blunder from goalkeeper Steve Williams. This spurred Derry on in the Brandywell but it wasn’t to be enough. First a Stuart Byrne penalty, followed by a neat finish from Glen Crowe, was enough to see Shels over the line.

It was to be The Reds last league title however as they were demoted to the First Division months later due to financial irregularities. The win also famously provoked an anti-Stephen Kenny outburst from Stuart Byrne afterwards.

Source: stutefc/YouTube

6. Draw enough to get Rovers over the line

Going into the final day of the 2010 season it had been 16 years since Ireland’s most successful club had won a league title.

Two points was what separated fierce rivals Shamrock Rovers and Bohemians with one game to go. For Rovers it was a trip along the DART line to Bray while Bohemians hosted Dundalk.

After twice being ahead but then conceding an equaliser with 20 minutes to go it looked as though Rovers might have blown their chances but The Hoops managed to hold on for the draw meaning that, even though Bohs recorded a 3-1 win over Dundalk, it was to Tallaght that the league trophy would be going.

Rovers' fans celebrate their first goal of the game Rovers fans celebrate their first league title since 1994. Source: Ryan Byrne/INPHO


Have you got any favourite final day League of Ireland memories? Let us know in the comments below.

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Ruaidhri Croke

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