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ROVERS 0 ST PAT'S 0 The day of the trophy presentation for Shamrock Rovers was in keeping with the slightly surreal nature of the 2020 season

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Shamrock Rovers players celebrate being presented with the SSE Airtricity League Premier Division trophy following their match against St Patrick's Athletic at Tallaght Stadium in Dublin. Photo by Seb Daly/Sportsfile

Shamrock Rovers players celebrate being presented with the SSE Airtricity League Premier Division trophy following their match against St Patrick's Athletic at Tallaght Stadium in Dublin. Photo by Seb Daly/Sportsfile

Shamrock Rovers players celebrate being presented with the SSE Airtricity League Premier Division trophy following their match against St Patrick's Athletic at Tallaght Stadium in Dublin. Photo by Seb Daly/Sportsfile

The day of the trophy presentation for Shamrock Rovers was in keeping with the slightly surreal nature of the 2020 season, with the all-conquering Hoops having to battle with 10 men to preserve their unbeaten record.

Lifting the title without fans present was somewhat anti-climactic, and a defeat would have been worse, but Stephen Bradley’s Hoops avoided it despite the loss of Joey O’Brien for the final quarter.

Before the game, Bradley’s side learned they would have an extra game this week with Derry winning their case arguing that a league meeting that was rescheduled twice due to Covid issues in either camp should be played – and not forfeited – because their local authority weren’t allowing them to travel to Dublin.

An independent disciplinary appointed by the FAI ruled that the governing body could not enforce a 3-0 defeat on the Candystripes in the circumstances and that match will now take place on Saturday, thus meaning that the entire final round of fixtures moves from Sunday evening to Monday.

That’s caused a few murmurs around the league for financial reasons, but the situation with St Pat’s in the second half of this match emphasised that the congested nature of the peloton justifies a drive to schedule the final round of the fixtures at the same time.

Defeat would have left Stephen O’Donnell’s Saints in danger of dropping into the play-offs, but the draw means safety and a chance to secure fourth – and a possible backdoor into Europe – if a series of results go their way. They may regret failing to nab a shock win that would have made that aim more realistic.

Granted, they rode their luck before the break when Rhys Marshall squandered a great chance to put the hosts ahead. Rovers had to introduce Jack Byrne earlier than planned following his Covid recovery after Graham Burke was forced to depart.

However, the Saints found gaps after the restart with Alan Mannus denying Georgie Kelly before Jordan Gibson wasted a one-on-one ahead of O’Brien’s dismissal. But O’Donnell’s side failed to capitalise on their advantage as Rovers regrouped before claiming the coveted piece of silverware.

Shamrock Rovers: Mannus, Grace (Lopes 63), O’Brien, Scales; Marshall (Lafferty 63), McEneff, Finn, Kavanagh; Watts, Burke (Byrne 23); Greene (Oluwa 86).

St Patrick’s Athletic: Clarke, Feely (McClelland 85), Desmond, McNally, Bermingham; Forrester, Lennon; Gibson (Burns 80), Benson, Griffin (King 53); Kelly.

Ref – S Grant.

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