{mosimage} 1 November ~ Shamrock Rovers claimed their 16th League of Ireland title on Friday night after a 16-year wait and a dramatic run-in settled only on goal difference. Rovers began the night just two points ahead of title-holders and bitter rivals Bohemians having surrendered the five-point lead they held with just six games left in the season. It looked like a season spent lying in wait would be rewarded with Bohemians' third title in as many years but a loss to Galway United in the penultimate game ended a ten-game unbeaten run and all but handed Rovers the championship.

Even so, Rovers didn't make it easy for themselves, only managing a draw away to Bray Wanderers in front of a sell-out crowd but Bohemians’ 3-1 victory over Dundalk wasn't enough to turn the goal difference in their favour.

Despite coming within a whisker of winning three in a row, this will be Bohs' last title challenge for the foreseeable future. Their financial problems will force them to reduce the wage bill by letting go most of their playing and backroom staff and likely adopting a part-time set up.

The title has proved a poisoned chalice since the turn of the century with winners Shelbourne, Drogheda, Cork City and regular contenders Derry City all suffering relegation and flirting with extinction. A banner at the Bohs game declaring The end of an era, thanks lads may prove more pertinent to the future of the league than intended.

With only Sligo Rovers and Sporting Fingal, who both secured places in the Europa League qualifiers on the final day, maintaining a full-time professional set-up and other clubs less like to take budgetary risks, the league may finally be able to balance a competitive league with financial stability. Rovers know better than anyone after their own close call with extinction about the dangers of over spending, and are quoted as operating on a budget of €760,000 (£661,000) this season.

The league win marks the return to the top of Irish football for Shamrock Rovers, the Republic's most successful club. They still have the FAI Cup final against Sligo Rovers to look forward to and enjoyed an impressive second season in their long delayed new home ground Tallaght Stadium, hosting Juventus in the Europa League and drawing the highest attendances in the league. If they continue to reap the rewards of sober budgeting and financial prudence they may well dominate the league in the coming years as the era of the indebted league champions finally passes. Aaron Rogan

Comments (1)
Comment by 1895 2010-11-09 11:37:02

Cork City and regular contenders Derry City all suffering relegation and flirting with extinction.

Not true. Both Derry City and Cork City went out of existence with huge debts. New clubs were set up for the 2010 season and had the benefit of being skipped past the third tier where new clubs are meant to start.

And Shamrock Rovers are reaping the rewards of going into exminership in 2005 and only paying 4% of their debts.

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