Tuesday, April 1, 2014

1 April 1984 - Irish Luck Returns To Rovers

On 1 April 1984, Shamrock Rovers beat Shelbourne 3-1, securing their first league title in 20 years. It was a major stepping stone in Rovers' establishment as the most successful club in Ireland.

Rovers were founded in Dublin in 1901, but struggled during their early years and twice went through a cycle of disbanding and resurrection between 1906 and 1921. In 1922, one year after their second resurrection, the League of Ireland elected Rovers as a member. It was a turning point for the club, who won the league title that season. By 1949, Rovers were the dominant team in Ireland, having won 44 major trophies, including six league titles and 11 FAI Cups.

The club struggled through the 1970s, coinciding with a general decline in fortunes for Irish football, as match attendances diminished and two clubs - Drumcondra and Cork Hibs - disbanded. Rovers finished at the bottom of the table in 1975 and had to re-apply for admission to the league.

In 1983, Rovers signed new manager Jim McLaughlin, who set about rebuilding the squad from the ground up. He released the majority of the players he inherited from the previous manager and spent freely to replace them with stars from around the league. That approach proved successful, as Rovers' win over Shelbourne on 1 April 1984 clinched their first league title since 1964. They went on to win three more consecutive titles, though only two were under McLaughlin, who left in 1986 to manage his hometown club Derry City (leading them to a domestic treble in 1989, when they won the the league, the FAI Cup and the League Cup).

Rovers currently hold records for most League of Ireland titles (15), FAI Cups (24), and League of Ireland Shields (18). They narrowly missed adding to their tally last season, finishing in second place, four points behind league winners Bohemians.

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