THE Irish Amputee Football Association’s Technical Committee officially declared Bohemians the 2020 National League champions with Cork City forced to settle with finishing in third place as it was decided recently that the season could not be completed.
Last year’s campaign came to an abrupt halt as a result of Covid-19 restrictions and with the IAFA ruling that the remaining fixtures could not be played the title was awarded to Bohs, who had won all six of their matches, for the first time in the club’s history.
The committee decided that the team who topped the table through matchdays one, two, and three should be declared title winners on a points per game basis and the Dublin club will be formally presented with the trophy when the easing of restrictions permits.
But for City, who won the league back in 2018, it’s a disappointing way to conclude the campaign although manager Dáire Coughlan believes it was the right decision.
“As optimistic as they were, I thought that we were up against it. I didn’t think that the league could be finished in the current climate,” Coughlan told The Echo.
“Especially just after Christmas, the case numbers painted a really bad picture so I thought, in all likelihood, that it wasn’t going to finish and it was just a matter of the IAFA coming up with a solution on the best way to finish it.
“There were three options on the table; there was null and void it, there was the option to give it to the team that was ahead on a point per game basis, which is what they did in the end, and the third option was to just delay it and run the end of the 2020 season into the beginning of the 2021 season.
“How do I feel about it? I knew it was coming, I knew that they would have to make a decision on it soon one way or the other and I think it was the right thing to do because realistically they were never going to finish the season in the current climate.”
The Leesiders have been impressive since they launched the team at the end of 2017 as they won the league in their first full year in 2018 before then making their Champions League debut in Tbilisi, Georgia in 2019.
Coughlan, who took charge at the beginning of last year and has only had the opportunity to manage six games since, admits some of his players are disappointed they won’t get the chance to fight for the title until the end.
But the Ballinhassig chairman insisted they can use it as motivation for next season, which will hopefully commence by the end of this summer.
“There’s always that… because it’s such a small league there’s always that rivalry,” he added.
“The players know that something had to be decided on once and for all. It’s not the best way to finish the league and I’m sure for Bohs... their manager Brían Doyle made a comment that it was a bittersweet victory for them.
“Ourselves, Shamrock Rovers, and Patrick Thistle could easily use it as motivation for next year but in fairness to Bohs, they were ahead in the league as it stood and they were, for me, the stand-out team in 2020 so we congratulate them.
We haven’t played a game in 13 months. We haven’t played since the first week in March 2020.
“The way the case numbers are going and the vaccinations are going, we would’ve just had to wait, wait, wait so we are better off to clean the slate and start afresh.
“But the start of the new season is all dependent on the restrictions because they wouldn’t be classed as elite although it is a national league.
“Also, the health of some of the guys involved would need to be taken into consideration as well so when will we be back? I don’t know but it will probably be whenever competitive football, in general, will be back.
“For myself, I don’t think I could call last season a proper season. I came in without fully knowing the ins and outs of the league, how it ran, the people involved, the teams involved, the opposition players, even my own players.
“I couldn’t possibly walk away and say that I gave it a good go because I didn’t.
“At least now I know the deal, I know the lads, I know the opposition, I know what to expect so hopefully 2021 will go much better.”