After the disappointment of play-off defeats in the last two seasons it was a night of celebration for Longford Town as they were crowned First Division champions and gained promotion to the Premier Division for the first time in seven years.
Over 2,000 supporters were in City Calling Stadium to witness history as the Town won their first ever league title. The scenes at the end of the game showed what it meant to the long suffering supporters and the Town players who proved to be the best team in the division this season.
The home side opened the scoring in the fourth minute when Rhys Gorman’s corner was side footed to the net by Gary Shaw.
It was all Town and in the 13th minute a free from Gorman went over the bar while minutes later Lorcan Shannon burst through and played the ball to David O’Sullivan but he brought a fine save out of Rovers keeper Conor O’Malley. From the resulting corner O’Malley made a hash of his catch and somehow dropped the ball with Don Cowan on hand to toe poke home.
Another Gorman corner yielded another goal in the 26th minute; Stephen Rice got a touch on the corner and it fell to Shaw who grabbed his second of the night.
Rice had a chance minutes later but he put his effort wide. Town goalkeeper Paul Hunt had nothing to do as Rovers struggled to get the ball into their opponents half such was the Town’s dominance.
Just like the first half the Town got an early goal in the second half when Cowan got his second goal two minutes after the break after his first shot from a Tom Morris cross was initially saved by O’Malley.
In the 54th minute after a bit of pressure Rovers had a chance but Chris Lyons put his shot wide.
Down the other end Gorman came close with a free in the 59 minute but two minutes later Town got another goal; O’Malley saved David O’Sullivan’s shot but it came out to Cowan who crossed for O’Sullivan to get his 20th league goal of the season and his first in seven games.
Town substitute Mark Salmon tried to lob O’Malley in the 68rd after running on to a long ball but the Rovers keeper did well to jump high and save.
The game petered out a bit with the Town so comfortable. Rovers tried to muster up a few chances; Dylan Kavanagh’s lob just went over the bar in the 81st minute and two minutes later Cian Kavanagh floated his free over the bar.
The chants of ‘we are going up’ and ‘stand up if you’re Longford Town’ rang out around City Calling Stadium as the clock ticked down. No chances of note in the final minutes but there was no need to more goals as Town put in a five star performances to be crowned champions.
Longford Town: Paul Hunt; Jamie Mulhall, Rhys Gorman, Pat Flynn, Tom Morris; Don Cowan (Noel Haverty 70), Kevin O’Connor (Mark Salmon 53), Stephen Rice, Lorcan Shannon; David O’Sullivan, Gary Shaw (Peter Hynes 69).
Subs Not Used: Chris Bennion, Glen O’Connor, Conor O’Brien, Ger Pender.
Bookings: Shannon (21mins), O’Sullivan (75mins)
Shamrock Rovers: Conor O’Malley; Maxime Vuille, Michael Kelly (Gavin Boyne 78), Sean Heaney, Evan Osman; Cian Kavanagh, Jack Watson, Conor Dunne, Daniel Purdy (Adam Whelan 66); Mark Sandford (Dylan Kavanagh 66), Chris Lyons.
Subs Not Used: Michael Kelly, Nathan Benson, Azeez Yusuff.
Referee: Simon Rogers (Dublin)
Extratime man of the match: Don Cowan (Longford Town)