- Football League of Ireland 2004
The 2004 Football League of Ireland season began on Friday
19 March 2004and ended on Monday November 22th. This season was like a transitional one as only team was relegated from the Premier Division and three promoted from the First Division. This was done in order to increase the amount in the Premier Division by two and reduce the First Dvision by the same amount. At the end of the season Shelbourne became league champions with Longford Town retaining the FAI Cup.
eircom League Season
The season began on 19th March with four matches getting the season underway. Waterford United, Cork City and Shelbourne. At the end of March, Shelbourne were the early leaders with maximum points but only two matchdays had passed. It was therefore still very early.
We began to get a clearer picture of how the league may pan out when April was over. A gap had started opening at the top. Shelbourne were still unbeaten after nine matches, winning six and drawing three. Waterford United were just three points behind Shelbourne, however, on 18 points. There was further five point gap back to third placed Drogheda United. At the bottom, it looked like Dublin City were in for a tough campaign with just 5 points on the board. They were still in contention to avoid relegation at this stage, though, as they were only three points behind St Patrick's Athletic.
Despite Shelbourne showing indifferent form in May, collecting only five points from a possible nine, they were now five points clear at the top. This was because Waterford United had now slipped away by recording two draws and two defeats in their four matches. They were now in fourth as both Drogheda United and Bohemians had overtaken them. Dublin City were still bottom but were only a point from safety.
By the end of June the half-way point of the season had been reached. It was Shelbourne who were still top but by now had a twelve point lead. Dublin City were also still in the same position they had held virtually all season - last. They had thirteen points, four behind Derry City.
Before July it seemed that the title race was over. Shelbourne had a twelve point lead but now, Drogheda United recorded three wins from four games in July with Shelbourne not winning any three of their games this month, and so now six points separated the top two. The bottom of the table was not improving from Dublin City's point of view. They were five points adrift.
August was over and Drogheda United had overtaken Shelbourne and were now top. The main reason for this was due to Shelbourne's exploits in Europe and so many of their league games were postponed. Drogheda United were only a point clear and had played three games more than Shelbourne. Dublin City looked all but doomed. They were ten points behind the nearest team Longford Town.
Drogheda United only played two matches in September but the disappointing thing for them was that they lost them both. Shelbourne had regained top spot from them and were ahead by eight points having a game in hand on Drogheda also. Third placed Bohemians had closed in on Drogheda and were just a point behind. Dublin City eight points behind Derry City at the foot of the table having played two games more.
At the end of October, Drogheda United and Bohemians were all but out of the title race. Drogheda United were twelve points behind leaders Shelbourne with just a maximum twelve on offer for them. Bohemians were eight points behind and had only possible 9 left for them. Shelbourne had not quite sealed the title yet, though, as Cork City had by now reached second place and were just four points behind with 4 games remaining. The title was between the top two. Dublin City needed a miracle to beat the drop now, as they were seven points adrift and only had four games to play. They simply needed to win at least three to stand any chance of surviving.
On November 5th it looked like the Cork City's league challenge might have been over after they could only draw at home to Derry City. If Shelbourne had beaten Longford Town. the following day they would be nine points clear with Cork City having just three games remaining. Longford won 4-1. Dublin City were relegated after they lost 2-0 to Longford on November 9th. It was now mathematically impossible for them to survive. Both Cork City and Shelbourne won their remaining games before the final round of matches. This meant that Cork City were three points behind Shelbourne. Put simply, Cork had to win and Shelbourne lose for the title to go the Cork instead of Shelbourne. It turned out that neither result went the way Cork wanted as both they and Shelbourne drew. This meant that Shelbourne retained the league title and Cork City would have to be satisfied with second place. The final table looked like this:
*PFAI eircom League Player of the Year
Jason Byrne- Shelbourne
*PFAI eircom League Young Player of the Year
Daryl Murphy- Waterford United
FAI Cup 2004
Football League of Ireland Cup 2004
* [http://www.soccerbot.com Soccerbot]
* [http://www.fai.ie FAI Website]
* [http://www.rsssf.com/tablesi/ier04.html 2004 League of Ireland season on rsssf.com]
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