We’re going to take a look back at what happened on the field last year in Irish football, because we’re sick of talking about what’s happening off it.
League of Ireland
Dundalk secured the title after a thrilling 3 – 2 win against nearest challengers Shamrock Rovers. Rovers had built a lead early in the season, but dropped points in big games. Ultimately Dundalk had the league wrapped up by September. It was a bit of an anticlimactic ending to what at one stage looked like it’d be a decent title race.
Bohs achieved a Europa League place with a young team. Their season included the biggest win and highest scoring game of the season, beating UCD 10 – 1. Derry City finished 4th, securing Europa League football on the final day with a victory over North West rivals Finn Harps.
St Pat’s put up a challenge for a Europa League place late on, but poor form early on meant they missed out. They’d have to be disappointed considering they made some serious signings preseason. Waterford and Sligo made up the Midtable, Waterford seeming to struggle a bit with European football being cruelly ripped away.
At the wrong end, Cork City struggled (while never likely to go down. You can listen to Pat Morely explain Corks issues here. Finn Harps struggled early on but made their way to a play-off place, ultimately staying up in the play-off final. UCD struggled losing so many players and finished bottom by 9 points.
In the first division, Shelbourne clicked after a slow start to win the division and get automatically promoted. In the Play-offs Cabinteely beat Longford Town, before Drogheda got passed Cabo to get to the final. Drogs would go on to lose to Finn Harps. Bray Wanderers missed out on the play-offs despite being in contention until late on. Cobh Ramblers were best of the rest, ahead of Galway who finished strong. Limerick were deducted 26 points, and finished last below Wexford and Athlone Town.
Women’s National League
It looked like Peamount would run away with it, but Shels stayed strong and handed the Peas their first loss of the campaign late on. It was an exciting ending to the season. In the 2nd last game round (originally scheduled to be the last) Peamount looked like they’d secured the league, they were ahead of DLR Waves and Wexford were beating Shelbourne. Shels came back to win 2 – 1 pushing the title race to the last day. They would go ahead in the table with a midweek win over Waves in their last game, but ultimately Peamount would beat Cork to lift the trophy.
Wexford Youths, the incoming champions, had a disappointing start to the season, and ended up finishing 15 points off Peamount. Galway continued to close the gap on the top 3, and they won the under 17’s championship. Cork achieved their joint highest points total, while DLR Waves, Limerick and Kilkenny propped up the table. Kilkenny United will not be in the league next season. Athlone Town have joined the WNL for next season, with Shamrock Rovers and Bray Wanderers entering U17 teams.
You can hear our interviews with our Women’s National League senior and young players of the year from 20:25 here.
Shelbourne lifted the Women’s League Cup early on in the season. Dundalk beat Derry City on penalties to lift the EA Sports Cup.
On the big day at the Aviva, November 3rd, it was Peamount V Wexford Youths in the Women’s Cup Final, and Shamrock Rovers V Dundalk in the Men’s Cup Final.
In a game of quality strikes, Wexford Youths lifted the Cup with captain Kylie Murphy scoring the winner in a 3 – 2 thriller.
In the men’s Cup Shamrock Rovers looked to have it sealed late on with a penalty…
Before Michael Duffy did this…
Both teams had chances in extratime, it went to penalties with Rovers winning thanks in part to heroics from Mannus.
That was Shamrock Rover’s first FAI Cup in 32 years.
Hear our pundits thoughts on both cup finals here.
5 European adventures for Irish sides, with Dundalk in the Men’s Champions League Qualifiers, Wexford Youths in the Women’s Champions League Qualifiers, and Cork, Shamrock Rovers, and St Patrick’s Athletic in the Europa League qualifiers.
Wexford Youths made a good account of themselves in the WUCL qualifying group stage, missing out by just one point. A 1 – 3 defeat in their first game to Vllaznia of Albania put them on the back foot, put they’d go on to beat group hosts Gintra Universitetas of Lithuania 1 – 2, and thump Birkirkara of Malta 2 – 7 in their final game. They finished 2nd on 6 points behind Vllaznia.
Dundalk entered the Champions League at the first qualifying stage, beating Latvian champions Riga 5 – 4 on penalties after both legs finished 0 – 0. They would go on to earn a draw in the first leg against Qarabağ, before being outmatched in the 2nd leg 0 – 3. In the Europa League 3rd qualifying round the Lillywhites were well beaten over two legs by Slovan Bratislava losing 4 – 1 on aggregate.
In the Europa League first round it was disappointment for St Pats and Cork. St Pats were beaten 1 – 4 by IFK Norrköping of Sweden, and Cork were upset 2 – 3 against Luxembourg’s Progrès Niederkorn.
Shamrock Rovers picked up a famous victory against Brann, winning 3 – 4 over two legs. They were beaten in extra time against Cyprian side Apollon Limassol.
Next season Peamount United will be in WUCL qualifiers, Dundalk will be in the UCL qualifiers, and Shamrock Rovers, Bohemians, and Derry City will be in the Europa League qualifiers.
It was a very flat year for the Irish mens team, scoring just 7 goals in 8 qualifying games. It all started on a windy day in Gibraltar where the minnows namesake rock came up against Ireland’s rock Shane Duffy. Hendrick scored the winner in a forgettable game. Georgia at home was next, and in a terrific performance against Georgia, with Hourihane getting the goal in a 1 – 0 win. Ireland kept their chances alive with draws against Denmark and Switzerland either side of a lackluster win over Gibraltar. A disappointing draw in Tbilisi and a loss to Switzerland meant Ireland had it all to do against Denmark, but they could only come away with a 1 – 1 draw. Ireland also had wins against Bulgaria and New Zealand in friendlies.
Ireland will now play Slovakia away in the play-off semi-final. You can read about it here.
A managerial change brought about the era of Vera, who led Ireland to two wins and a draw in the Euro qualifiers. In friendlies it was defeats to Belgium, Italy, and world champions USA, and a draw and a win against Wales.
In the qualifiers Ireland beat Montenegro 2 – 0 and Ukraine 3 – 2. The Ukraine game saw a record home attendance for a home Irish women’s game. It was a slightly disappointing end to the year with Ireland being held 1 – 1 away to Greece.
For our Premier Division team of the season podcast click here.
For our First Division team of the season and our talk on the FAI mess with Stephen Henderson click here.
Never miss an episode of our domestic football podcast Get Your Bleak On or our Irish rugby podcast Provincial Jazz.
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