The Shamrock Rovers Backroom staff and management team celebrate after the final whistle. [Inpho//Ben Brady]

Rovers win 4th title in row

Shamrock Rovers beat St Patrick’s Athletic 2-0 before a full house at Richmond Park on Friday night to win their fourth league title in a row and their 21st overall. The Hoops did win four in-a-row in the 1980s, but that was under two different managers, Jim McLaughlin and Dermot Keeley; this time the feat was achieved by one manager Stephen Bradley. It’s true the 38 year-old Dubliner had a big budget to work with, but still it’s a great achievement for a young man in his first managerial role. Bradley’s contract is due for renewal; he says he wants to go for a five-in-a-row, but that is now up to the Rovers board. Derry City and St Pat’s are guaranteed European football next season, but the race for the 4th place rests between Shelbourne, Dundalk and Bohemians. Meanwhile Sligo Rovers’ premier division was guaranteed with a 0-0 home draw with Drogheda. UCD are relegated and it will be second from bottom Cork City who will play-off against either Cobh Ramblers or Waterford.

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Chelsea and Wolves supporters are demanding a meeting with EPL bosses over the first Christmas Eve top-flight game in 28 years. Chelsea are due to travel to Molineux for a 1pm kick-off on Dec. 24, the first Christmas Eve game since Leeds played Manchester United in 1995. Supporters on both sides slammed the switch and Chelsea Supporters’ Trust branded it “totally unacceptable.’’ The Christmas Eve game is one of 41 games between Dec. 5 and Jan. 2 where the date or kick-off times have been changed. Games will be shown live on Sky Sports, TNT or Amazon every day over the festive period except for Christmas Day and Dec. 29.



In the Championship Wayne Rooney's dismal start to life as Birmingham City manager continued as his side suffered a third consecutive defeat away to Southampton. Referee David Webb ignored pleas for a penalty after Southampton Irish keeper Gavin Bazunu clearly fouled Oliver Burke when put through. After the game, Rooney said: ‘‘Refusing us a penalty is an absolute disgrace. I have no other words to use on that because everyone in the stadium could see the keeper running out, he is reckless, and if he comes out that quick he has to get the ball. Ollie Burke flicks it on, and he wipes him out.’’  In midweek Bazunu also made headlines when was sent forward for a corner with his side 2-1 down away to Preston and while it appears he made a slight connection with a near-post header, it has been confirmed as a Ched Evans own goal after taking a deflection after Bazunu had got a touch.

Leicester City continue to lead the Championship with 39 points from 14 games. Ipswich Town are in second place with 34 points, while Leeds United are now third place on 25 points.



Thousands of Celtic supporters defied the club and displayed Palestine flags ahead before their Champions League game with Atletico Madrid at Parkhead last Wednesday. A tifo display in the colors of the Palestine flag was evident in the lower half of the standing section before kick-off and about two dozen sizeable flags were flown in the adjacent section before the teams emerged. Thousands of smaller flags were evident around the ground when the teams came out. The displays will inevitably lead to UEFA disciplinary action against Celtic, given the European governing body has already fined the club for fans flying Palestine flags on previous occasions. The club issued a plea to supporters earlier on Wednesday after the Green Brigade fans' group encouraged supporters to “courageously fly the flag for Palestine” amid the escalation of the conflict in the Middle East that has claimed thousands of lives. Celtic twice lost a lead as they gained their first Champions League point in a 2-2 draw with 10-man Atletico Madrid.



Newcastle United, who lost their first Champions League game last week, going down 1-0 at home to Borussia Dortmund, will have to do without their Italian midfielder Sandro Tanoli for the remainder of the season. Last week Tonali was banned from soccer for 10 months over breaches of rules on betting on matches in Italy. Tonali, who joined Newcastle from AC Milan this year, must also attend treatment sessions for problem gamblers and give a series of talks about his experience over a further eight-month period as part of a deal with the Italian Football Federation. The plea-bargain agreement, which is expected to apply to international soccer, was confirmed by FIGC President Gabriele Gravina. It will rule Tonali out for the remainder of the club season and next summer's Euro 2024 tournament. The 23-year-old  is the highest profile player caught up in a betting scandal that is shaking Italian soccer. He joined Newcastle from AC Milan in July for a reported fee of €70 million, a record sum for an Italian player.



Also in the Champions League last week, Man City beat Young Boys of Berne 3-1 in Switzerland to maintain their perfect start. Goalkeeper Andre Onana saved a penalty in added time to give Man United an important 1-0 over FC Copenhagen at Old Trafford. The much maligned Harry Maguire was United’s scorer. In the Europa League Caoimhin Kelleher started in goal for Liverpool as they beat Toulouse 5-0 at Anfield to go five points clear at the top of their group after three games.