Incredible scenes— League of Ireland (@LeagueofIreland) October 27, 2020
What a moment for @DroghedaUnited 🏆
Look at what it means! #LOI | #GreatestLeagueInTheWorld pic.twitter.com/fUzyJShIjH
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They will now play in the Irish Premier Division for the 2021 season
All ten teams kicked off at the same time tonight to draw the 2020 First Division season to a close. There was no lack of drama as there was plenty at stake, particularly for clubs at the top half of the division.
Drogheda vs. Cabinteely
Drogheda took on Cabinteely at Stradbrook Road in one of tonight’s most decisive fixtures. There was far-reaching implications for both teams based on the result. Drogheda ran out winners which ultimately meant they claimed the league title and automatic promotion to the Premier Division. Goals from James Brown and Luke Heeney ensured their victory. On the other side of things, Cabinteely missed out on a promotion play-off place as a result of their defeat at the hands of Drogheda and fixtures elsewhere. Both teams met last season in the promotion/relegation play-off semi-final. Like tonight, Drogheda came out on top as they ran away with a 6-2 aggregate win before they lost to Finn Harps in the final. Losing a play-off final can be demoralising for any team but Drogheda showed their heart and determination throughout the season. They battled for promotion until the penultimate day of the season where they made their dreams a reality.
🏆 | 2020 SSE AIRTRICITY LEAGUE FIRST DIVISION CHAMPIONS!!!!!#OnOurWay 👊 pic.twitter.com/5a8F0A25pM
— Drogheda United F.C. (@DroghedaUnited) OCTOBER 27, 2020
Bray Wanderers vs. Athlone Town
Bray Wanderers managed to pick up a victory against Athlone, but they’ll be disappointed after Drogheda picked up a result. Before the match, one point separated 2nd placed Bray from Drogheda. That remains the same after tonight as both teams managed to win. If Drogheda had lost – or even drew – against Cabinteely, Bray would be celebrating promotion to the Premier Division tonight. Unfortunately for them, that was not the case. Their season is far from over yet, though. Finishing 2nd means they await a play-off semi-final against the winners of the play-off quarter finals. If they can come out of the semi-final with a win, they’ll then face the 2nd team from last in the Premier Division to determine if they go up or stay down.
Elsewhere in the division, there were no less than five teams battling for a promotion play-off place. The teams in question were; UCD, Longford Town, Cabinteely, Galway United and Cobh Ramblers. As mentioned previously, Cabinteely missed out on a spot due to their result against Drogheda.
Longford Town vs. Wexford FC
Longford Town were in the most enviable position prior to kick off as they took on league strugglers Wexford FC. Wexford picked up just 5 points all season before tonight. However, in a shock result Wexford managed to defeat Longford by 2-1. Goals from Karl Fitzsimmons and former Longford man Jack Doherty secured a win for Wexford. Despite their loss, Longford still managed to secure a play-off spot due to UCD’s draw against Galway. This is the second year in a row that Longford have reached the play-offs after tonight. Last season they were cruelly knocked out on penalties at the hands of Cabinteely. They’ll be anticipating they can get further than the quarter finals this time. Although, they’re going to have to put in a better performance than they did tonight if they wish to do so.
Wexford 2-1 Longford Town
We escape with a playoff spot by the skin of our teeth!!!#Town2020 🔴⚫⚽ pic.twitter.com/1ytlf6rjyC
— Longford Town FC (@LongfordTownFC) OCTOBER 27, 2020
UCD vs. Galway United
UCD could only manage a draw at Eamonn Deacy Park against fellow play-off chasers Galway United, but it would be enough for them to clinch a play-off spot. UCD were 3 points ahead of Galway and Cobh Ramblers pre match, meaning a draw would be sufficient as long as either Longford or Cabinteely drew or lost. They just about managed a draw in the end as Galway were leading until the 81st minute when UCD pulled one back. They would score a further goal in the 89th minute before Galway drew level again in the 93rd minute from a 30-yard Shane Duggan screamer. Galway will be cursing their luck as they had a play-off spot secured until the 81st minute, but they needed to win the game in order to have any chance of getting a play-off spot. UCD will now face Longford Town in the play-off quarter finals in their next fixture. They were relegated from the Premier Division last season so they’ll be hoping they can right their wrongs and gain promotion back to the division at the first time of asking.
First Division – FULL TIME | Evan Weir’s second half double secures our play off spot! We will confirm details of the playoff as soon as we have them! 🔵⚽️ #COYBIB pic.twitter.com/tHbMrbF86F
— UCD AFC (@UCDAFC) OCTOBER 27, 2020
Cobh Ramblers vs. Shamrock Rovers II
Cobh Ramblers played Shamrock Rovers II in what was the least dramatic match of the night. Cobh Ramblers still had a *slim* chance of promotion before the match but they failed to capitalize as they played out a 0-0 draw. Good result for Shamrock Rovers II as they fielded several young players including Kevin Zefi (15) and Sam Curtis (14).
Drogheda United can look forward to playing in the Premier Division next season. Longford, UCD and Bray, on the other hand, will be planning for their upcoming play-off games.
Longford and UCD will play each other first and the winner of that game will play Bray in the play-off semi-final. The victor of the semi-final will be involved in a relegation/promotion play-off final against the 2nd last team in the Premier Division – which is yet to be decided.