Having compiled our Top 20 most read articles for 2020, we’ve done a last look back on the year (and good riddance to 2020!) and brought you our Top 10 from the extensive list of live match updates we carried out during the year.
It is a good spread across the matches we covered from the Premier and First Divisions, FAI Cup (for men and women) and a behind-closed-doors Ireland international at the Aviva Stadium.
Premier Division – 11 September – David Wilson
After 11 minutes with his team 2-0 up Filippo Giovagnoli, who was in charge of Dundalk for his first league game, must have thought this management lark was easy.
However, Shels scored twice across four minutes mid-way through the first half, making the Italian work with his half time team talk. Greg Sloggett got the winner for the Lilywhites in the second half to make Giovagnoli a happy man with his first win at Oriel Park.
First Division – 17 August – Deniese O'Flaherty
It was a highly competitive First Division this season that went right to the wire and beyond with a few off-field issues on player eligibility causing some controversy even after the last football had been kicked.
Cabo won in Bishopsgate to prolong their unbeaten run and move five points clear at the top so it is hard to believe that they finished seventh in the ten team division to miss out on even making the playoffs.
Nations League – 6 September – Macdara Ferris
Stephen Kenny’s first game in charge wasn’t what he would have wanted. Played out in a soullessly empty Aviva Stadium, Kenny’s team lost this UEFA Nations League game to Finland.
The results on the pitch (or indeed COVID-19 related off it) didn’t get any better during the remainder of 2020. However, Kenny was able to blood a large number of new players and provides some sense of optimism around 2021.
FAI Cup – 12 December – Dave Donnelly
The Peas were ruthless in their FAI Cup Final clash with Cork City. Hitting the Leesiders for six, Peamount completed their league and cup double.
The new tradition of the captain handing out the medals saw Áine O’Gorman do the honours for her teammates before she lifted the trophy at Tallaght Stadium.
(Fehervar win 4-2 on penalties AET)
Europa League Qualifier – 27 August – Brendan Graham
Five Irish sides went to penalties in Europe this year and Bohemians were one of three sides who ended up on the wrong side of a shootout. A similar fate befell the Republic of Ireland senior men’s side against Slovakia in the EURO2020 playoff and Peamount United in the Champions League by Glasgow City.
Despite the tough draw, Bohs in their first European game for eight years, felt unlucky not to make it into the next round as they pushed a side that since 2005 have won three league titles, two Hungarian Cups, three Hungarian League Cups and two Hungarian super cups right to the wire.
Bohs lead thanks to a Keith Ward goal before conceding a 37th minute goal from Hungarian international Nemanja Nikolic. The game went all the way to penalties.
Fehervar missed their first spot kick but Dan Casey and Kris Twardek failed to convert their efforts and that proved the downfall of the Gypsies in the shootout.
FAI Cup Report – 28 August – Paul Corcoran
This was quite the FAI Cup tie as John Caulfield was in the Galway dugout for the first time in Eamon Deacy Park.
His team missed a penalty and found an equaliser on two occasions before Shels scored three times in the final 11 minutes plus injury time in front of the live TV cameras.
Premier Division – 5 September – Dave Donnelly
There had been a nine game period under Stephen Bradley when Rovers could manage to avoid defeat to Keith Long’s men just once but the Hoops had turned that around to win three straight matches against the Gypsies prior to this derby game.
Bohs arrived seeking the three points that would knock Rovers off the top of the table but they left Tallaght unhappy with a couple of penalty awards not given by referee Derek Tomney and trailing by five points after Danny Lafferty scored an early winner. It gave the Hoops breathing room in the title race and they never looked back.
(Dundalk win 5-3 on penalties AET)
Europa League Qualifier – 24 September – Ciarán Fisher
Four time Europa League group stage qualfiers Sheriff Tiraspol stood in the way of Dundalk’s progress in Europe. They had won all ten of their matches in the Moldovan league to date and took the lead on eight minutes. However Sean Murray’s goal was enough to take the game to extra-time and on to penalties where Dundalk were faultless with their spotkicks.
It proved a decisive step for Filippo Giovagnoli’s side in making it to the group stages in Europe for the second time.
Premier Division – 7 August – Josh Dolan
Looking back now this was defeat for Dundalk that proved very costly. It confirmed Bohs’ status as the team that could go on and challenge Shamrock Rovers for the league.
The loss for the Lilywhites meant they couldn’t close to within a couple of points on Rovers who that weekend went on to come from behind to win late on in Derry and open up an eight point gap on Dundalk.
Two weeks later Vinny Perth was gone from Oriel Park.
(Rovers win 12-11 on penalties AET)
Europa League Qualifier – 27 August – Ryan Kilbane
The Hoops trailed after a controversial nine minute penalty when Joey O’Brien got hit in the face by the football and somehow the Slovakian referee said it warranted a spot kick. Twice Rovers trailed in the one-legged tie, with the second equaliser for the Hoops sending Graham Burke joint top of the goalscorer list for Rovers in Europe.
Liam Scales’ red card meant Rovers had to play extra-time with ten men but they did so in front of about a dozen supporters who had scrambled up on the 12 foot high stadium perimeter wall.
All this made for quite the Europa League qualifier and that is before we got to the longest penalty shootout in European club competition. On eight occasions a Shamrock Rovers walked forward from the centre circle knowing that if they missed their club was out.
Alan Mannus took the 20th kick in the shoot-out and saved the 25th effort before at 10.46pm Joey O’Brien slotted home his second penalty and the 26th of the shootout to earn the Hoops a place in the next round.
Joey' O'Brien wins it!!!!!!!!!— Shamrock Rovers FC (@ShamrockRovers) August 27, 2020
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