Saturday 16 December 2017

Five key moments on the way to title glory

April 15

Bohemians 1
Shamrock Rovers 1

Michael O'Neill's men came into this derby on the back of a shock loss to Bray, and trailed as the game entered injury-time. Ronan Finn (right), who wouldn't be renowned for his heading ability, rose highest in the box to head home a 94th-minute equaliser. The Hoops duly embarked on a winning run.

July 15

Drogheda 0
Shamrock Rovers 1

With the European adventure just starting, Jim Magilton settling in as assistant to O'Neill after the shock departure of Trevor Croly, and Jamaican Ryan Thompson given his first start to prepare for life after Alan Mannus, the Hoops made hard work of a game they were expected to coast. They rode their luck in the dying stages, before Gary Twigg popped up with a 90th-minute winner.

September 12

Derry 2
Drogheda 2

For a while, it seemed as though Derry had the momentum that would carry them to the title. However, they made a fatal error by starting slowly against the Louthmen, falling two goals behind. Stephen Kenny's men rallied to get a point, but this was two dropped and they followed it up with another Brandywell draw against Bray.

October 8

St Patrick's Ath 1
Sligo Rovers 0

Sligo had put themselves in a strong position by winning in Tallaght as the Hoops struggled to juggle their Europa League commitments. On a Saturday evening in Inchicore, however, Paul Cook's (right) men came up short on when they could have made a strong statement. Now, they needed big favours from elsewhere.

October 9

Bray 1
Shamrock Rovers 2

The next afternoon, Rovers visited a venue where they traditionally struggle. This time, O'Neill's charges took a firm grip on the trophy with Karl Sheppard stepping up to the mark; his late winner completed a brace and prompted wild celebrations. It gave the Hoops the comfort of knowing that a draw against Derry four days later would be enough to stave off the pack -- they went on to win and that was that.

Irish Independent

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