Shamrock Rovers title celebrations put on hold

Shamrock Rovers are the 2020 SSE Airtricity League Premier Division champions for the first time since 2011.

Rovers claimed their 18th league title after their closest rivals Bohemians slipped up, losing 2-0 to Finn Harps – a result which also saw 2017 champions Cork City relegated to the first division.

This brings an end to a gruelling title race which originally began on Valentines Day and was forced into a long hiatus due to the Covid-19 pandemic. Rovers led from the front having remained in first place since the second week of fixtures.

This championship moves the Hoops four clear of Dundalk in total number of titles won, cementing themselves as Ireland’s premier club football team after Dundalk’s period of dominance having won 5 titles since Rovers’ last in 2011.

Stephen Bradley’s Hoops were scheduled to be presented with their trophy after their televised game against Derry City at 6pm in Tallaght Stadium on Wednesday.

However, this is now in doubt after Derry flagged late on Monday night that they considered the game to be off due to two confirmed positive cases of Covid-19 in their club, one player and a member of their backroom team.

“I don’t think it looks good right now,” said Bradley at a press briefing. “We have to plan for it to be on, but I don’t think it looks good.”

Bradley was in an understanding mood, saying, “there is nothing you can do when it’s in the group. Once it’s in the group it’s very, very hard to control. I understand that it’s frustrating. We had it a few weeks back with our two lads and the close contacts and then two of them ended up getting it. They seem to be okay now, but once it goes in the group it’s frustrating. You can’t get annoyed or angry because you can’t control it.” 

This comes after three Rovers games were suspended due to star player and top scorer Jack Byrne alongside teammate Aaron Greene testing positive for Covid-19 earlier in the season. 

The situation surrounding Rovers’ coronation is further complicated by Derry being in Northern Ireland, who have different health authorities to the Republic as of now.

This postponement, along with no fans being able to attend any celebration will put somewhat of a dampener on the championship, however the Hoops will surely just be glad to finally have won another league title, albeit in challenging times.