Sunday 18 March 2018

Three a magic number: Dundalk join elite group

Dundalk FC's Jim McLaughlin in 1981 Picture: Ray McManus / SPORTSFILE
Dundalk FC's Jim McLaughlin in 1981 Picture: Ray McManus / SPORTSFILE

Dundalk have become just the fourth team in the history of the League of Ireland to win three league titles in a row. Stephen Kenny's side join an elite group.

Cork United, 1941, 1942 & 1943

They were one of the many entities to fly the flag on Leeside - they only existed from 1940-1948 - and dominated during World War II with a fully professional side of players who would have been in England in a different time. Florrie Burke and Bill Hayes were two of the major stars. Their first title was contentious as they finished level on points with Waterford and the authorities decided the play-off would take place in Cork. Unimpressed Waterford refused to travel.

Waterford, 1968, 1969 & 1970

A golden era for Waterford who came face-to-face with European Cup winners Manchester United in a famous Lansdowne Road meeting after the first of their three-in-a-row. Flying winger Johnny Matthews and goalkeeper Peter Thomas - who both hailed from Coventry - were adopted as local heroes. They ended up winning six titles in an eight-year spell; after missing out in 1971 they went on to lift the trophy again in 1972 and 1973.

Shamrock Rovers, 1984, '85, '86 & '87

Jim McLaughlin recruited a host of top players and made a significant imprint in League of Ireland history; they also won three cups in this four-year spell. Pat Byrne, Dermot Keely, Mick Byrne, Noel King, Mick Neville and Noel Larkin were among the leading lights but it's a difficult list to narrow down. McLaughlin left after the third title with Keely taking over for the last one before the traumatic sale of Milltown. Dundalk's next challenge is to emulate their achievements.

Irish Independent

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