Goals from James Brown and Luke Heeney inside five second-half minutes ensured Drogheda United's return to the Premier Division as they beat Cabinteely 2-0 at Stradbrook on a night of drama across the SSE Airtricity League First Division.
Having lost out in the play-offs in each of the last two years, it marked a deserved record fifth second-tier title for the Louth club as Tim Clancy’s side had too much on the night for Cabinteely, who played for an hour with 10 men.
Despite defeat, their eighth in 11 games, Cabinteely hung on for the final play-off place.
That though hangs in the balance ahead of an FAI employed independent arbitration hearing at 10am on Wednesday morning in relation to an appeal by Wexford having to forfeit four matches for fielding an ineligible player.
Should Wexford succeed, Cabinteely would lose two points and their play-off place would go to sixth-placed Galway United.
Drogheda might have been ahead as early as 38 seconds in south Dublin, with Brandon Kavanagh’s close-range shot coming back off the Cabinteely crossbar.
Cabinteely’s hopes were dented on 32 minutes when central defender Jonathan Carlin was sent off having received a second yellow card inside two minutes.
Right-back Brown put Drogheda ahead on 58 minutes with a low left-foot shot for his first goal for the club.
Midfielder Luke Heeney doubled that lead when heading home a James Clarke cross before Drogheda goalkeeper David Odumosu saved a late penalty from Kevin Knight.
Despite winning 1-0 away to Athlone Town courtesy of a goal from winger Ryan Graydon, Bray Wanderers, five points ahead of Drogheda a week ago, had to be content with second place and a home game in the play-offs, as of now, against Cabinteely.
Evan Weir scored twice for UCD, who drew 2-2 away to Galway to take third place and with it a home game against Longford Town.
Stephen Christopher gave Galway a 43rd-minute lead with a scrappy goal to briefly put them into the play-off places. Skipper Shane Duggan then salvaged the draw with a last-minute equaliser.
Longford Town held their play-off place despite losing 2-1 away at bottom side Wexford.
Dylan Grimes gave Longford an early lead. But Wexford hit back in the second half with strikes from Karl Fitzsimons and Jack Doherty.
Cobh Ramblers, needing to win and hope two of three other results went their way, were held to a 0-0 draw by Shamrock Rovers II at St Colman’s Park.