Dundalk forward Pat Hoban has claimed that he would not have celebrated if the Lilywhites had won last season’s SSE League of Ireland.
The Covid-19 pandemic meant that the 2020 campaign ended up being decided after 18 games, with Shamrock Rovers finishing as champions.
But Pat Hoban, who finished the season as the league’s top scorer, has questioned the legitimacy of Rovers’ achievement last term.
Hoban is looking forward to the upcoming season, which he refers to as a “proper league”, but the striker has disputed Rovers’ triumph last time around.
“It’s a proper league, isn’t it? You’re telling me that winning the league after 18 games is winning a league? It’s not,” Hoban told Dundalk’s club website.
After undergoing surgery prior to Christmas, @PaHoban10 says he is making good progress on a return to full fitness ahead of the new season.
— Dundalk FC (@DundalkFC) February 12, 2021
“It’s like being top of the table in June and saying ‘we won the league’. Come on. Let’s be realistic here.
“Before we went into the games last summer I said it was ridiculous. I could not see myself, if we had won the 18-games last season, celebrating like we had won the league, especially after winning three before that. I just couldn’t do it.
“I saw last year’s league as a chance to win a Champions League spot and we didn’t do that. We finished third, and although we qualified for Europe, it was still disappointing, but this year we have to try and retain what’s ours which is a 36-game, proper league.”
Covid-19 has delayed the beginning of the next League of Ireland Premier Division campaign until March 19, when Dundalk will travel to the Showgrounds for a clash against the defending champions.
Having undergone surgery on an ankle injury before Christmas, the postponement may actually end up benefitting Hoban, who has welcomed the additional time to return to full fitness.
Hoban said: “If we had started this month, I probably would have pushed myself too much to try and get back and that could have led to a setback and me being out for even longer. Now, I have a bit more time to get ready which is good for me.”