1922-23 Free State League season

With the expanded format meaning the league ran from September through to April, Shamrock Rovers stormed to the league title in their very first season, averaging three and a half goals a game, and securing 21 points out of a possible 22 from their away programme. While they did lose their debut league fixture 1-0 at home (Rovers had set themselves up at a ground called “Elm Park” in Milltown in south Dublin, having spent much of their existence playing at Ringsend Park) to fellow newcomers Shelbourne United (the latter club would move into Elm Park with Rovers for the 1923-24 campaign), Rovers proceeded to go unbeaten for the remaining 21 games, and eventually finished five points clear of their nearest challengers Shelbourne. Like Rovers, both Shels and third-placed Bohemians had found goals very easy to come by, with each scoring 72 in their 22 league games. Indeed, this was the first campaign to feature an inordinate amount of one-sided fixtures, with Shelbourne’s 9-0 win over Pioneers (Shels won the teams’ other league meeting 7-0) and Shamrock Rovers’ 9-1 defeat of Midland Athletic being the most extreme examples.

The F.A.I.F.S.’s affiliation with the Falls Road Football Association in nationalist West Belfast led to a surprise in the Free State Cup, with junior Falls Road side Alton United defeating Shelbourne 1-0 in the final (like the previous year, the final took place on St. Patrick’s Day at Dalymount Park). The victory could perhaps be explained by the presence of several former Belfast Celtic players in the side, with the latter club being suspended from the Irish League at the time. Indeed, due to the tense political situation north of the border, the cup was not actually brought back to Belfast, and with the club affiliating to the I.F.A. for the following season, Alton would never actually have the opportunity to defend the trophy.

Shelbourne could take a little consolation from a retention of the Free State Shield following a 2-1 victory over Athlone at Dalymount Park in May, the competition having been run on a straight knockout basis this season. 1922-23 would unfortunately prove to be the only Free State League campaign for Rathmines Athletic (they resigned with one of their league matches still to be completed), with Olympia and Dublin United also bowing out. Brooklyn F.C., yet another Dublin side (they played out of Chalgrove Terrace on the South Circular Road), would be the only new addition for the 1923-24 league season.

Free State League 1922-23

Shamrock Rovers221831771939
Shelbourne United221237433727
St. James’s Gate221138493525
Athlone Town221138463325
Midland Athletic227213306816
Dublin United224315307011
Rathmines Athletic22211921745

League top scorers : Bob Fullam Shamrock Rovers, 27 Ralph Ardiff Shelbourne, 26 Stephen Doyle Shelbourne, 14 Paddy Duncan St. James’s Gate, 14 Christy Robinson Bohemians, 14

French side Gallia draw 1-1 with Bohemians at Dalymount Park in March 1923

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