Shamrock Rovers FC, the most successful club in the Republic of Ireland, suffered the worst night of their proud 104-year history when they were relegated from the Irish Premier Division.
The club have won the Irish title a record 15 times and have provided more players for the Irish international team than any other club in the country, but their failure to defeat Dublin City FC on Friday night condemned them to relegation for the first time in their illustrious history. Rovers could only manage a 1-1 draw in the second leg of their promotion/relegation play-off, losing 3-2 on aggregate on two legs. Dublin City will therefore replace them in the top flight next season.
Rovers finished second from bottom in the Premier Division table after they were docked eight points over financial irregularities, a penalty without which they would have been safe. To add extra spice, Dublin City manager Dermot Keely is a former Rovers player and manager, and was part of the side which won four titles in a row in the 1980s.
"It's a black night for the club," said Rovers caretaker manager Alan O'Neill, who only had two games in charge of the Hoops, both legs of the play-off. "No club has a divine right to a success or a place in the top division, Manchester United [FC] were relegated a few years ago and bounced back, so Rovers have to do the same.
"I can't fault the players, they gave everything they had but it wasn't enough. Whatever happens now I won't be here next season, I came into the void to look after the team for the two play-off games but I'm not interested in staying on as manager."
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