Cork City have been crowned Airtricity League First Division champions after a Graham Cummins' 94th-minute winner sealed a 2-1 victory for the Rebel Army over Shelbourne at Tolka Park.
Cummins' dramatic headed winner saw City clinch promotion alongside Shelbourne who had to settle for second place following tonight's defeat.
Before a crowd of 3,277, Daryl Horgan delighted the big Cork following to fire City in front after just four minutes. But Shels responded and deservedly levelled through captain David Cassidy just before the half hour.
A draw would have secured promotion for both sides but Cummins sealed the victory and the First Division title for Tommy Dunne's side.
Elsewhere, Monaghan United secured the play-off place, finishing with an impressive 5-0 victory over Athlone Town, while Pat Scully's Limerick just missed out on the play-offs despite enjoying a final day 3-0 win over Waterford United.
Even though the draw would suffice, Cork pressed until the end and got their reward in the fourth minute of added time.
Substitute Derek O’Brien beat his man on the left wing to cross and Cummins, who’d been relatively quiet throughout much of the game, beat Dean Delaney with a downward header for his 23rd goal of the season.
Roared on by a big following, Cork had a dream start, taking the lead after just four minutes.
Shels failed to deal with a ball into the box from right-back Neal Horgan. It pinballed around before breaking loose for winger Daryl Horgan who drilled it low to the back of the net from 16 yards.
Rattled, Shels took a while to regain some composure, but once they got forward they troubled Cork at the back.
City midfielder Greg O’Halloran hacked clear from a Kevin Dawson header after Cassidy’s free kick before Mark McNulty had to make the first save of the game on 15 minutes, getting down well to touch away Dawson’s low drive from distance.
Shels maintained the pressure when midfielder John Sullivan was inches over the top with a half-volley as Cork struggled to clear their lines from Brendan McGill’s cross, before deservedly levelling on 27 minutes.
Philly Hughes pounced on a Cork mistake to send Cassidy away and the in-form skipper scored with a cool finish from a tight angle.
It was end to end stuff now with Delaney in the Shels goal tipping away a Daryl Horgan shot two minutes later.
Hughes then burst through onto a Cassidy ball back at the Drumcondra end to bring a parry save from McNulty.
The City keeper was there again to thwart Shels when pushing a Gareth Matthews shot out for the home side’s third corner of the game.
With no let up, Cork had loud appeals for a handball waved away by referee Paul McLaughlin on 41 minutes after the ball did appear to strike the hand of Shels' defender Ian Ryan.
While the intensity and endeavour was there, the second half lacked much of the tempo of the first.
Cork lost O’Neill, who started despite a hamstring problem, at the break and substitute Vinny Sullivan wasted the first opening of the second half when snatching a volley over the top after a mistake by Andy Boyle put him in on goal.
There was defending to do at the other end on 67 minutes when Danny Murphy did well to block a stinging shot from McGill after great work involving Hughes, Sullivan and Barry Clancy with the cross.
Cork pressed for much of the remainder with Cummins, the division’s leading scorer, having the ball in the Shels net on 76 minutes only for it to be ruled out for offside.
But Cummins would have the final say as Cork, reformed two years ago following their financial collapse, are back in the top flight.
Shelbourne: Delaney; Matthews, Boyle, Ryan, S Byrne; B McGill (Mulhall, 90+3), Dawson, Sullivan, Clancy (C Byrne, 79); Cassidy; Hughes (Gorman, 77).
Cork City: McNulty; N Horgan, Kavanagh (O‘Brien, 70), Spillane, Murphy; G. Morrissey, O’Halloran, Duggan, D Horgan (Turner, 90); O’Neill (Sullivan, h/t), Cummins.
Referee: Paul McLaughlin (Monaghan).