2006 League of Ireland

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The clubs that competed in the 2006 League of Ireland.

The League of Ireland was once again sponsored by eircom and was commonly known as the eircom League in the media. Cork City were defending champions and the 2006 season ran from March until November. The eventual league champions were Shelbourne.

Clubs information[edit]

Team Manager Main sponsor Kit supplier Stadium Capacity
Athlone Town Republic of Ireland O'Connor, Michael Ganly's Hardware O'Neills St. Mel's Park 3,000
Bohemians Republic of Ireland Farrelly, Gareth Des Kelly Carpets O'Neills Dalymount Park 8,500
Bray Wanderers Republic of Ireland Gormley, Eddie Slevin Group Adidas Carlisle Grounds 7,000
Cobh Ramblers Republic of Ireland Henderson, Stephen Goodyear Uhlsport St. Colman's Park 5,000
Cork City Republic of Ireland Richardson, Damien Nissan O'Neills Turners Cross 8,000
Derry City Republic of Ireland Kenny, Stephen MeteorElectrical.com Umbro The Brandywell 7,700
Drogheda United Republic of Ireland Doolin, Paul Murphy Environmental Jako United Park 5,400
Dublin City Republic of Ireland Keely, Dermot Carroll's Irish Gift Stores Umbro Dalymount Park 8,500
Dundalk Republic of Ireland Gill, John IJM Timber Frame Company Diadora Oriel Park 11,000
Finn Harps Republic of Ireland Gorman, Anthony Harley's Cheers Bar PF Sports Finn Park 7,900
Galway United Republic of Ireland Cousins, Tony Harrmack Developments Ltd. Umbro Terryland Park 3,500
Kildare County Republic of Ireland Ryan, John Celbridge Football Park Umbro Station Road 2,500
Kilkenny City Republic of Ireland Rea, Brendan The Kilkenny Voice Erreà Buckley Park 6,500
Limerick Republic of Ireland Drew, Danny Asian Harvest Jako Hogan Park 9,000
Longford Town Republic of Ireland Mathews, Alan Flancare Umbro Flancare Park 4,500
Monaghan United Republic of Ireland Cooke, Mick The Steering Wheel Diadora Century Homes Park 3,000
Shamrock Rovers Republic of Ireland Scully, Pat Woodie's DIY Umbro Tolka Park 10,100
Shelbourne Republic of Ireland Fenlon, Pat JW Hire Umbro Tolka Park 10,100
Sligo Rovers Northern Ireland Connor, Seán Toher's Jako The Showgrounds 5,500
St. Patrick's Athletic Republic of Ireland McDonnell, John Smart Telecom Umbro Richmond Park 5,500
UCD Republic of Ireland Mahon, Pete Budweiser O'Neills Belfield Park 1,900
Waterford United Republic of Ireland Cronin, Gareth ThermoFrame Diadora Waterford Regional Sports Centre 8,000

eircom League season[edit]

The eircom League season kicked off on Friday 10 March, however holders Cork City did not start their season until 18 March due to Setanta Sports Cup commitments. Drogheda United raced to an early lead in the Premier Division table, however Derry City FC, Shelbourne FC and Cork City all loomed large.

In the first division, Shamrock Rovers seemed to have no trouble adapting to their new circumstances after being relegated from the Premier Division the previous season as the Dublin club quickly went top of the table. In an extremely tight division Galway United, Limerick FC, Dundalk FC and Cobh Ramblers all had legitimate chances to top the division. Shamrock Rovers effectively clinched the First Division title with a 4–0 win over an apparently demoralised or otherwise unmotivated Finn Harps team at Tolka Park in the penultimate game of the season. The victory rendered Shamrock's lead unassailable to all but an inconceivable chain of results.

Some fans had complained the league felt very disjointed due to the Mid-Season break for the World Cup[citation needed]. St. Patrick's Athletic seemed worse hit as their encouraging early season form deserted them on the return. Shelbourne were the form team throughout July and August and by the start of September had assumed the lead in the race for league honours. Drogheda United and Derry City were still in contention but Cork City had faded, and lay 10 points adrift in 4th place. Stranded at the bottom Waterford United picked up its first win of the season by beating St Patrick's Athletic in Richmond Park on 1 September.

Premier Division climax[edit]

Mark Farren's stoppage-time winner for Derry City away to Waterford United on 13 November ensured the title would (for the third successive year) remain at stake on the final day of the season (17 November.) In order to clich the championship, Shelbourne, tied with Derry City on 59 points, needed only to better the Candystripes' result against Cork City when they faced Dublin rivals Bohemians at Tolka Park. Cork, three points shy of Shels and Derry on 56, could not plausibly retain their championship save by overturning an enormous goal difference deficit, but second place remained a realistic aspiration had Cork beaten Derry by a clear two goal margin.

On the night, early developments favoured Derry City, who led Cork after 11 minutes through Mark Farren. When Bohemians snatched a surprise lead against Shelbourne at Tolka Park (via an egregious error from Shels 'keeper Steve Williams, who fumbled an innocuous cross before nudging the ball over his own goal-line), the league trophy seemed bound for a rare excursion across the border. On 23 minutes, however, John Paul Kelly handled Bobby Ryan's shot, and Stuart Byrne sank the penalty kick to level the scores. Six minutes later, a clearly unfit Jason Byrne's outswinging cross from the right flank was prodded past Stephen O'Brien by the left boot of Glen Crowe, the man whose transfer from Bohemians to Shelbourne in 2004 provoked much of the acrimony which has defined the two clubs' relations ever since.

Although sixty eventful minutes remained (the last of which would see a red card bestowed upon Shelbourne substitute Richie Baker for a high challenge on Conor Powell), Crowe's goal proved decisive, securing both match and championship for Pat Fenlon's team. An emotional Stuart Byrne, adjudged eircom Man of the Match, castigated outgoing Derry City manager Stephen Kenny in his post-match interview,[1] while Pat Fenlon equivocated when questioned on his future at the club.

Derry City defeated Cork 1–0 to seal second place, a result which looked to have deprived the deposed champions of European football for the 2007 season after it condemned them to a fourth-place finish. However, Derry's win against St. Patrick's Athletic in the 2006 FAI Cup final ensured that Derry took the UEFA Cup spot on offer for the competition and proved to be very beneficial for Cork. The fact that Derry had finished second in the league, which also guaranteed a place in the UEFA Cup, meant that Drogheda United's 1–0 victory over Waterford ensured the Boynesiders third place and a guaranteed passage into the UEFA Cup for 2007 as Derry's league qualification was transferred to the next best-finishing team below them. This meant that Drogheda, who initially thought they would be competing in the UEFA Intertoto Cup, had their entry into that competition transferred to Cork. While Shelbourne were set to compete in the preliminary rounds of the UEFA Champions League, their financial troubles placed doubt on the possible awarding of a UEFA licence to the club. As of the beginning of the 2007 season, the decision of which clubs would be representing the league in the 2007 Champions League and UEFA Cup was not wholly finalised.

Final League Tables[edit]

Premier Division table[edit]

Pos Team P W D L F A GD Pts
1 Shelbourne 30 18 8 4 60 27 33 62
2 Derry City 30 18 8 4 46 20 26 62
3 Drogheda United 30 16 10 4 37 23 14 58
4 Cork City 30 15 11 4 37 15 22 56
5 Sligo Rovers 30 11 7 12 33 42 −09 40
6 UCD 30 9 11 10 26 26 00 38
7 St. Patrick's Athletic 30 9 10 11 32 29 03 37
8 Longford Town 30 8 10 12 23 27 −04 34
9 Bohemians 30 9 5 16 29 34 −05 29(*)
10 Bray Wanderers 30 3 8 19 22 64 −42 17
11 Waterford United 30 2 6 22 20 58 −38 12

(*)Bohemians were deducted three points for fielding a suspended player

Shelbourne won the championship, and were to represent the league in the qualifying stages of the UEFA Champions League. However, financial woes had cast serious doubts over that as of the beginning of the 2007 season.

Derry City, as FAI Cup winners, were to enter the qualifying stage of the UEFA Cup for the next season, but looked set to take Shelbourne's place in the Champions League as league runners-up as of the beginning of the 2007 season. That presented St. Patrick's Athletic with the possible opportunity of taking part in the UEFA Cup in Derry's place as FAI Cup runners-up. Drogheda United, who were also to take a spot in the UEFA Cup due to the league runners-up, Derry City, already qualifying, looked set to keep their place, while Cork City qualified for the 2007 Intertoto Cup.

All four sides were to represent the eircom League in the 2007 Setanta Sports Cup. However, St. Pat's replaced Shelbourne who pulled out of the competition prior to its kick-off.

All Dublin City's results were expunged from the records after the club folded mid-way through the season.

First Division Table[edit]

Pos Team P W D L F A GD Pts
1 Shamrock Rovers 36 21 12 3 53 13 40 72(*)
2 Dundalk 36 22 5 9 57 33 24 71
3 Galway United 36 19 12 5 57 25 32 69
4 Cobh Ramblers 36 16 10 10 50 33 17 58
5 Limerick 36 14 5 17 38 48 −10 47
6 Finn Harps 36 12 10 14 49 45 04 46
7 Kildare County 36 11 10 15 38 55 −17 43
8 Athlone Town 36 11 9 16 29 47 −18 41
9 Monaghan United 36 6 9 21 32 64 −32 27
10 Kilkenny City 36 3 8 25 25 65 −40 17

(*) Shamrock Rovers F.C. were deducted three points for fielding a suspended player

P = Matches played; W = Matches won; D = Matches drawn; L = Matches lost; F = Goals for; A = Goals against; GD = Goal difference; Pts = Points

Play-off[edit]

During the month of November, Dundalk FC, who had finished 2nd in the First Division, defeated Premier Division side Waterford United, who finished in 11th position, 3–2 on aggregate in the annual eircom League Play-Off. In any other season, the winning of this game would have entitled the club to take part in the following season's Premier Division. However, the 2006 Play-Off was to have no such effect as the choice of teams playing in the 2007 season's Premier and First Divisions was to be left to the discretion of the FAI's Independent Assessment Group. The victory later turned out to be a pointless one and Dundalk's worst nightmare came true when the decision was made regarding the teams to play in the 2007 League of Ireland. Dundalk failed to make the cut, according to the criteria set down before the season began.

eircom League Clubs in Europe 2006[edit]

UEFA Champions League[edit]

Cork City qualified for the Champions League, having won the 2005 league title. They defeated Cypriot champions Apollon Limassol 2–1 on aggregate in the first preliminary round. After a 1–0 victory in Turners Cross, Cork drew 1–1 in Cyprus thanks to a late Dan Murray goal. After the final whistle Joe Gamble and Danny Murphy were red carded and they would miss both legs of Cork's next tie. The draw pitted them against Serbian giants Crvena Zvezda. Cork lost the first leg 1–0 in front of a sold out Turners Cross. If they needed any more motivation for the second leg, the winners of this tie were drawn against AC Milan in the final preliminary round. However, on 2 August, Cork were beaten 3–0 in Belgrade and their European campaign was over for 2006.

UEFA Cup[edit]

On a historic 27 July night both league entrants, Derry City, who qualified after finishing 2nd in the 2005 league table, and Drogheda United, who qualified after winning the 2005 FAI Cup, won through to the 2nd preliminary round of the UEFA Cup. Derry City had beaten IFK Göteborg from Sweden 1–0 both away and in the Brandywell. Drogheda had it slightly harder against HJK Helsinki of Finland. After a 1–1 in Helsinki, Drogheda obtained the same score line in the return leg (played in Dalymount Park due to United Park's lack of seating). In extra time however, two penalties were enough to seen Drogheda advance with a 3–2 score. This was Drogheda's first ever win in European competition.

In the 2nd qualifying round Derry beat Scottish side Gretna FC 7–3 on aggregate. A 5–1 victory in Scotland was almost enough to guarantee qualification before drawing 2–2 in the second leg. That 5–1 victory is the biggest away win ever by an Irish side. Drogheda were knocked out on penalties by IK Start of Norway. After losing 1–0 in Norway, Drogheda won the by the same scoreline in Dublin to force extra time and penalties. Start eventually won the shoot out 11–10 after defender Graham Gartland missed his second penalty.

In the first round proper, Derry City earned a 0–0 draw in the first leg at home to Paris St. Germain before being eliminated from the competition after a 2–0 defeat in the return leg in France.

UEFA Intertoto Cup[edit]

Shelbourne, who qualified for the UEFA Intertoto Cup after finishing 3rd in the 2005 league, beat Lithuanian side FK Vetra 5–0 on aggregate in the first round. A 1–0 win away was followed with a comprehensive 4–0 victory in Tolka Park. In the 2nd round, a 1–0 victory at home in the 2nd leg versus Odense BK of Denmark was not enough to overturn a 3–0 defeat in the first leg.

League's 2006 UEFA coefficient[edit]

The FAI National League's UEFA coefficient accumulated to a total value of 6.498 for the 2006–07 European season.

League's 2006 UEFA ranking[edit]

Background information[edit]

Ireland's national league coefficient had been steadily improving in the years prior to the 2006 season. The League of Ireland's move to 'Summer football' at the beginning of the 2003 season, which was seen to be beneficial for team fitness and coherency when the qualifying campaigns came round, and the introduction of full-time professional football by a number of top sides, aided this promising progress. Due to the swift development in the previous few years, combined with the fact that UEFA accorded its coefficient values based on results over five previous seasons, Irish clubs' coefficients gave a somewhat inaccurate impression of the current standard of play in the eircom League, with many believing that an accurate representation of the standard of play would have seen Irish clubs ranked higher. Signs of the vast improvement were evident in the fact that League of Ireland clubs had consistently overcome sides from the Swedish league (ranked 28th by UEFA in 2006 after the position deteriorated due, in a large way, to the steady latter-day success of Irish teams over their Swedish counterparts) in those years. Cork City, for example, went past Djurgårdens IF in 2005 after having earlier beaten Malmö FF 4–1 on aggregate in 2004, while Derry City beat former UEFA Cup winners, IFK Göteborg, 2–0 on aggregate in 2006. They then went on to defeat Gretna, a side from the Scottish First Division, the second tier in the Scottish system (the Premier League is ranked 10th by UEFA), 7–3 on aggregate.

The poor ranking of 35th had led to arrogant under-estimation of the league's standard and before Derry City's win over IFK Göteborg, Niclas Alexandersson rather misguidedly suggested that his team could take a holiday and still walk over the League of Ireland side.[2]

FAI Cup[edit]

The FAI Cup was sponsored by Carlsberg for the 2006 season. In the second round of the competition, and the first involving League of Ireland clubs, holders Drogheda United were sensationally knocked out by First Division side Limerick. There were no other shocks.

As a result of Dublin City folding, non-league Killester United received a bye in the third round and went straight through to the quarter finals. In the tie of the third round Derry City beat Shelbourne 1–0 in Tolka Park. First Division side Shamrock Rovers knocked out arch rivals Bohemians after a replay.

In the quarter finals it took Sligo Rovers until extra time in a replay to dispose of Killester United. Elsewhere St Pats easily beat Longford 4–1, Shamrock Rovers scored two late goals to beat Athlone 2–1 away and Derry had a facile 2–0 win at home to UCD.

The semi final draw threw up two local derbies with Sligo Rovers hosting Derry and Shamrock Rovers hosting St Pats with the games to be played in the October Bank Holiday weekend. In the first of these games St Pats defeated Rovers 2–0 to advance to their first final since 2003. In the other game Sligo Rovers and Derry played out a 0–0 draw before Derry advanced with a 5–0 replay win.

The final was played on 3 December 2006.[3] It was the last ever soccer match to be played at the old Lansdowne Road.[4] The match was played out in severely stormy conditions that on numerous occasions caused the ball to move around the pitch by itself. The sides went in at half-time level at 1–1 after Mark Farren cancelled out Dave Mulcahy's opener. Derry City's Peter Hutton gave away a penalty in the second half which Trevor Molloy converted, leading the St. Pat's fans to believe they were on the verge of winning their first FAI Cup in 45 years. But Clive Delaney equalised in the final five minutes to take the game into extra time at 2–2. The high winds continued to disrupt the game as St. Pat's attempted to clear the ball for a throw-in only for it to be blown for a corner-kick by a gale. Sean O' Connor gave Pat's the lead for a third time in the 103rd minute. But Peter Hutton equallised three minutes later and was on hand again to wreak havoc in the Pat's defence three minutes later as Stephen Brennan scored an own goal to give Derry the lead for the first time in the match as well as the FAI Cup for the fourth time in their 21-year association with the League of Ireland. It was the highest scoring FAI Cup final in seventy-one years. Captain Peter Hutton lifted the trophy and was named Man of the Match.

FAI Cup Final[edit]


3 December 2006
Derry City 4–3 (AET) St. Patrick's Athletic
M. Farren Goal 25'
C. Delaney Goal 84'
P. Hutton Goal 106'
S. Brennan (OG) Goal 109'
FAI Cup final 2006 Match Report D. Mulcahy Goal 19'
T. Molloy (pen) Goal 74'
S. O'Connor Goal 103'
15.15 – Lansdowne Road, Dublin
Attendance: 16,022
Referee: Damien Hancock

Other cup competitions[edit]

Setanta Sports Cup[edit]

The second Setanta Cup was won for the first time by League of Ireland side Drogheda United, beating Cork City 1–0 after extra time in the final played on 22 April in Tolka Park Dublin, home to Shelbourne FC. In the semi finals Drogheda had beaten holders Linfield in Windsor Park and Cork had beaten Shelbourne in Turners Cross. Derry City was the only League of Ireland club not to progress to the semi-finals, after a draw with Shelbourne, and with Linfield beating cross city rivals Glentoran 6–0 on the same night..

League Cup[edit]

Despite the added incentive of a spot in the Setanta Cup, some teams continued to field teams of mixed strength and a number of first division sides knocked out their premier division opponents, most notably Shamrock Rovers beating St Patrick's Athletic in the 2nd round. Limerick continued their excellent cup runs in 2006 by reaching the semi finals where they lost to Derry City. Shelbourne beat local rivals Bohemian in the other (controversial) semi final, which saw Bohemians reduced to nine men. In the final played in Brandywell again a team was reduced to nine men with first goalkeeper David Forde and then Killian Brennan sent off for hosts Derry. However, after a tense scoreless game, Derry would win their seventh League Cup on penalties, with stand in 'keeper Pat Jennings Jr. saving three.

Top-scorers[edit]

Premier Division[edit]

Player Club League goals Cup goals Total
Republic of Ireland Jason Byrne Shelbourne 15 8 23
Republic of Ireland Mark Farren Derry City 9 8 17
Republic of Ireland Glen Crowe Shelbourne 12 4 16
Republic of Ireland Ciaran Martyn Derry City 8 7 15
Republic of Ireland Declan O'Brien Drogheda United 11 3 14
Republic of Ireland Trevor Molloy St. Patrick's Athletic 6 6 12
Republic of Ireland Roy O'Donovan Cork City 11 0 11
Republic of Ireland Denis Behan Cork City 6 4 10
Republic of Ireland Paul Keegan St. Patrick's Athletic 6 3 9
Republic of Ireland John O'Flynn Cork City 6 3 9
Republic of IrelandGary O'Neill Shelbourne 8 0 8
Romania Andrei Georgescu Bray Wanderers 7 1 8
England Darren Mansaram Sligo Rovers 7 1 8
Republic of Ireland Conor Sammon UCD 7 1 8
Republic of Ireland Paul McTiernan Sligo Rovers 6 2 8

Awards[edit]

SWAI eircom League Player of the Month award

Month Winner Club
March Republic of Ireland Paul Keegan Drogheda United
April Republic of Ireland Jason Gavin Drogheda United
May Northern Ireland Pat McCourt Derry City
June Republic of Ireland Paul McTiernan Sligo Rovers
July Cameroon Joseph Ndo Shelbourne
August Republic of Ireland Kevin Deery Derry City
September Northern Ireland Darren Kelly Derry City
October Republic of Ireland Philip Hughes Dundalk
November Republic of Ireland Roy O'Donovan Cork City

PFAI eircom League Player of the Year award

PFAI eircom League Young Player of the Year award

TV3's Goal of the Season award

Off-field issues[edit]

Tax problems[edit]

On 16 March, Shelbourne FC were served with a winding up notice by the Office of the Revenue Commissioners, with their holding company Accolade Ltd. having tax debts reported at €400,000. On 23 August, the club was given until the beginning of October by the High Court to pay more than €104,000 in outstanding taxes, having already paid €600,000 that year, when the Revenue Commissioners took action to shut down the club.[5] In late July Shelbourne failed to pay their players promptly and the players iniated industrial action. Later the club announced that "the players and staff have come to an agreement with the club and this hopefully will see all issues resolved".[6]

The club's troubles did not end there as they played through most of the season in a very poor financial state – a situation brought about in the main by market risk-taking in the drive for success, over-expenditure on player-purchase fees, high player wages, low attendance rates and continuing tax debts. Having received an eventual total of three winding-up orders from the Revenue Commissioners within a time-period of nine months, the club just about managed to muster up the funds owed each time and stay above board. This was at the expense of the club's players, though, who went for several weeks without a wage and it seemed, by the concluding weeks of the season, that the only thing keeping them performing at the club was the chance of winning the title and promises of a remedy. However, a remedy never came and most players decided to leave the club or had their contracts rescinded once the season ended. With the extent of the problems and the dire state of the club becoming public knowledge, accusations of off-the-field cheating were directed at Shelbourne, and some fans of the eircom League even believed that the club's title-success was undeserved in that it was won by the club intentionally playing beyond its own means, in turn, giving it a short-term, but highly unfair, advantage over financially responsible clubs. Some believed that because these factors obviously impacted on the club's on-the-field successes, the 2006 Premier Division title should have been stripped from them. However, all Shelbourne players were eventually paid the money they were due unlike Shamrock Rovers' players the previous season who suffered a mere eight pont penalty for writing off of seven figure debts.

Earlier in the season, Cork City FC had been similarly served with a winding up order due to unpaid tax on 2 July.[7] After the billed was paid, no action was taken.B

FAI merger[edit]

On 29 June the clubs voted to accept John Delaney's proposals for change in the league. A[8] The FAI would merge with the League of Ireland. The league make-up for 2007 onward would be decided by an Independent Assessment Group chaired by former FAI President Des Casey and appointed by the FAI. This group was to work from a set of pre-determined criteria for selection. Initially former footballer Niall Quinn was a member of the group before becoming manager of Sunderland FC.

The decision of the Group was finally announced on 11 December. Despite the fact that Dundalk FC had won the promotion/relegation play-off in November, they were one of the teams omitted from the 2007 League of Ireland as the Independent Assessment Group did not include them in their list of 12 Premiership teams. Dundalk, instead, were chosen to play in the League of Ireland First Division. Meanwhile, Galway United, who finished the season in 3rd place behind Dundalk's 2nd were chosen for the League of Ireland Premier Division. This infuriated Dundalk fans and on 13 December 2006 a disgruntled fan protested the Independent Assessment Group's decision by entering the headquarters of the FAI in Dublin and dousing the reception area in petrol whilst threatening to set it alight. After about an hour the stand-off that developed ended peacefully.[9]

Dublin City's resignation[edit]

On 18 July, Dublin City FC ceased trading and pulled out of the league, against league rules. This left the Premier Division being contested by 11 teams as opposed to the intended 12. All Dublin City results were expunged. Shelbourne, who had beaten Dublin City twice lost the six points while certain other sides who might have lost or drawn games with Dublin City, including title-race rivals, Derry City, benefitted in the chase despite losing a lesser number of points, sought to have this decision reversed as their league-lead was placed under threat. They argued on the grounds that proper procedure was not followed. The league board of management agreed with this and sought to have the correct procedure adhered to. On 16 August the league announced that their original decision was to be upheld, however.

George O'Callaghan transfer listed[edit]

In July George O'Callaghan was placed on the transfer list at his own request, as confirmed by his Solicitor, by Cork City F.C. manager Damien Richardson. The 2005 PFAI Player of the Year was fined two weeks wages for a red card received in a game versus Bohemians as per the Clubs disciplinary rules. O'Callaghan felt he was being victimised despite other players on the team having been fined previously. On the eve of Cork's Champions League tie with Crvena Zvezda, O'Callaghan released a somewhat contentious statement through his solicitor Cathal Lombard giving his side of the argument.[10] On transfer deadline day (31 July) Cork City formally placed O'Callaghan on the transfer list following pressure from O'Callaghan and his Solicitor.[11] He had not found a club by the end of the season but was eventually taken on trial by Ipswich Town F.C. H subsequently was offered a contract after a lengthly period.

Points deductions[edit]

On 16 August Shamrock Rovers were deducted 3 points for fielding Paul Shiels who had not served a suspension from his Dublin City F.C. time. Rovers then appealed this decision because of the allegedly extenuating circumstances rearding the suspension. The player nor the club were never informed of the player's suspension. After an unsuccessful appeal it went to arbitration with the original decision upheld. Derry City escaped punishment for fielding the banned Sean Hargan due to the league not informing Derry City in the correct timeframe.[12] Bohemians were deducted three points for fielding Jason McGuinness in their victory over Shelbourne on 18 August. Bohemians, like the previous two incidents, argued that they were not informed correctly but did not appeal the deduction.[13]

Shelbourne-Bohemians replay affair and arbitration[edit]

Deriving from the game Bohemians won 2–1 against Shelbourne on 18 August, was another debacle. Although Bohemians were docked three points for fielding a suspended player and did not appeal this decision, on 3 October, Shelbourne appealed against the decision to the FAI Appeal Board (under rule 22.1 of the eircom League rules) arguing that the fielding of Jason McGuinness put them at a disadvantage and that they ought to be compensated in some form as well as Bohemians punished. The FAI Appeal Board heard the appeal on 18 October 2006 and took its decision on 31 October 2006 which was notified to Shelbourne by a letter of 1 November 2006. The Appeal Board decided that the deduction of points against Bohemians should stand and that the match between Bohemians and Shelbourne should be replayed in the interest of what it simply described as "Fair Play" with the previous match removed from the records. The ruling, left unexplained, not only seemed to create an absurd and inconsistent set of consequences, but went against the eircom League's rules in that they clearly emphasised the punishment of an offender rather than the rewarding of a victim. On 6 November 2006, the eircom League requested the FAI to refer the matter to arbitration under rule 23.1 of the eircom League rules. The case was heard on 10 November by Michael M. Collins SC. The eircom League’s argument was squarely based on the proposition that the League competition was governed by the rules of the eircom League. Rule 6.1.1 expressly provided that membership of the League constituted an agreement between the league and each member club and its officials, representatives, players, managers and members to be bound by the league rules. Hence, rule 21 of the rules dealt with breaches of the rules and rule 21.4 provided:

In a match under the jurisdiction of the League any Club playing a player who is under suspension by the FAI or the FAI National League will have three points deducted from its score in respect of each match the suspended player has participated in and be liable to such other penalty as the Board [of Control] decides. The onus is upon the Club to satisfy itself that the player is not under suspension.

On 14 November, Collins delivered his judgment:

In my view, the case is quite clear. The match was played under the eircom League rules. Those rules provide at rule 21.4 for a deduction of three points in the events which have occurred. They do not provide for the exercise of discretion save insofar as a further penalty may be imposed upon the offending club. To my mind, such an extra penalty involves a fine or something similar but does not extend to the concept of ordering a replay of the match which, to my mind, is not a penalty in the sense in which that word is used in rule 21.4. Even if I were wrong in my construction of the eircom League rules, and if I did have a discretion to exercise in this matter, I find the arguments put forward on behalf of the eircom League on this issue to be convincing and I would not exercise any such discretion in favour of ordering a replay of the match.[14]

Attendances[edit]

Premier Division games had an average attendance of 1,539 people, while 570 was the average attendance for games in the First Division. Thus, the overall average for the whole League of Ireland in 2006 was 1,054. Derry City's average home attendance of 3,127 was the highest of any league team for the 2006 season. The record for the highest attendance in the Premier Division was also set in the Brandywell on the last night of the season (17 November) when Derry City met Cork City FC. 6,080 attended the game.

Media coverage[edit]

Whilst broadcasters such as Setanta Sports, TG4 and RTÉ televised a number of live games during the 2006 season – the agreed games including League of Ireland games, as well as Setanta Cup matches and FAI Cup matches – and TV3 presented a highlights programme, eircom League Weekly, on a Monday night each week, national coverage of the league was criticised by many fans.

Coverage of the league, including that of the press, regularly came in for criticism as it was seen to be neglecting the league somewhat. It was seen as often being deprived of publicity due to the Irish media's long-term infatuation with the English FA Premier League and Scottish Premier League. Broadcasters such as RTÉ, renowned for continually holding television programmes such as The Premiership higher on their sports agenda than their domestic eircom League coverage, were viewed as having continued this trend.[15] Similarly, pages relating to the league on their teletext service, Aertel, were frequently riddled with minor mistakes displaying a sense of casual carelessness or a lack of full awareness in relation to the league. eircom League fans often referred, in a jocular spirit, to the service as "Errortel".

While supporters were indeed appreciative and thankful to witness at least some coverage of the league they followed, TV3's eircom League weekly had also come in for negative criticism from some who found much of its footballing analysis to be inept and insufficient – unaided by a frustrating lack of television cameras present at games and, as a result, views on offer to help the pundits, as well as poor camera positioning and cameras drifting in and out of focus from time to time. The late Monday night slot of 11:30 PM given to the programme had also been unpopular with some.

Footnotes[edit]

See also[edit]

References[edit]

  1. ^ [1][dead link]
  2. ^ "Candystripes spurred by comments". Eleven-a-side.com. 13 July 2006. Retrieved 23 February 2007. 
  3. ^ "RTÉ Sport: FAI Cup final team news". Rte.ie. 1 December 2006. Retrieved 23 March 2011. 
  4. ^ "RTÉ Sport: Molloy lauds Derry team spirit". Rte.ie. 3 December 2006. Retrieved 23 March 2011. 
  5. ^ "Shelbourne given time to settle tax debt". rte.ie. 23 August 2006. Retrieved 23 August 2006. 
  6. ^ "Shelbourne official statement". Shelbourne F.C. official website. 23 August 2006. Retrieved 23 August 2006. 
  7. ^ "High Court petition to wind up Cork City football club". Sunday Business Post. 2 July 2006. Retrieved 23 August 2006. 
  8. ^ "eircom League clubs back FAI merger". rte.ie. 29 June 2006. Retrieved 2 August 2006. 
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