Shamrock Rovers, Ireland’s most successful football club, ended a 16 year drought to pick up their 16th league title on Friday night. A 2-2 draw away to Bray Wanderers was enough for Rovers to win the title on goal difference at the expense of bitter rivals Bohemians, who won 3-1 at home to Dundalk.
Rovers fans have endured a torrid time in recent years. For all of the 90s and most of the 00s the club was without a home of it’s own, playing home games at Tolka Park, Dalymount Park, Morton Stadium and the RDS. In 2005, the club reached it’s lowest ebb as Rovers were relegated from the Premier Division.
Relegated and facing extinction due to financial ruin the supporters stepped in a purchased the club. From there the club kicked on, winning promotion at the first attempt and finally beginning work on a new stadium in Tallaght.
Tallaght Stadium was completed in 2009, and Rovers achieved a 2nd place league finish in the first season at their new home, qualifying for the Europa League qualification rounds by doing so.
Which brings us to the rollercoaster of a year that has been 2010. An impressive victory in Israel against Bnei Yehuda in the early Europa League qualifying rounds set up a clash against the Old Lady of Turin, the mighty Juventus.
As expected, Juventus won. It was a victory for Rovers too in a sense. Widely described as “the model club” in regards to the way they operate their finances, Rovers made a small fortune in prize money, TV rights to air the match, a boost in merchandise sales and so on.
And despite looking like they had gifted the title to Bohemians just weeks ago, they held their nerve and picked up the league title, denying Bohemians what would’ve been their third title on the trot.
Manager Michael O’Neill feels the league win can usher in a new era of success for the club. “It’s important that we got that title. This is the first step of a new history that we can write for this football club and hopefully it is a history that we can build on and go from strength to strength.”
“It’s a great reward for the long-suffering people here who have stuck by this club. I’m delighted for the players; they’ve put an awful lot in to it. We learned a lot from this. It’ll be something they’ll remember for a long, long time.”