This season saw Sligo Rovers return to the league fold, along with a new side, Transport F.C., who had been formed in 1935 by members of the national bus company, C.I.E. The club had enjoyed success in the Leinster Senior League, reached the final of the 1948 Leinster Senior Cup (where they were defeated by fellow League of Ireland applicants St. Patrick’s Athletic), and would play their first three League of Ireland seasons at the Carlisle Grounds in Bray. Transport had been managed since 1945 by Matt Giles, a brother of the current Drumcondra coach Dickie Giles.
Driven again by the goals of John ‘Kit’ Lawlor (who would win his first international cap at the end of the season), Drumcondra clinched the league championship for the second year in a row, but this time in far less dramatic fashion. An unbeaten away record helped them to claim the title with six points to spare, with the strongest challenges again coming from Shelbourne (who would sell both Arthur Fitzsimons and Peter Desmond to Middlesbrough for a combined fee of £10,000 at the end of the season) and Dundalk. Shels had earlier secured their seventh League of Ireland Shield, while the Lilywhites had gone unbeaten on their way to a third Dublin City Cup (they won their last six games to pip Jimmy Dunne’s Shamrock Rovers by a point), and the latter clubs also contested this year’s F.A.I Cup final, with the Louth club emerging victorious by three goals to nil. Dundalk this year lost the last ever Intercity final (each round of the competition was over one leg this year) to Shamrock Rovers by the same scoreline, giving the Hoops their fourth Intercity victory in seven seasons. One slight setback for Rovers this year was a loss to non-league Dublin side St. Patrick’s Athletic in the first round of the F.A.I. Cup, with the Inchicore club progressing with the help of several of the players who had departed Milltown in the aftermath of the previous season’s “Intercity” pay dispute.
Two other notable events this season were Sligo Rovers’ recruitment of a mysterious Hungarian player called Siegfried Dobrowitch (claiming to be a former Hungarian international, Dobrovitch scored on his debut against Limerick in March), and Shelbourne’s decision to leave Shelbourne Park, which had been the club’s home ground since 1913. Frequent disputes with the National Greyhound Racing Company (who now owned the stadium), especially over the possibility of playing matches on Sundays, saw Shels make plans for the construction of a new stadium in Irishtown. The Reds were to spend the next number of seasons, however, as tenants of rival League of Ireland clubs.
League of Ireland 1948-49
League top scorers : Bernie Lester Transport, 12 Eugene Noonan Waterford, 12 Paddy O’Leary Cork Athletic, 12
Representative matches : Scottish League 5-1 League of Ireland, League of Ireland 0-0 Irish League, Irish League 4-1 League of Ireland, League of Ireland 0-5 English League