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Season review: Republic of Ireland

Published: Monday 15 November 2010, 11.42CET
Cup kings Sligo Rovers FC denied Shamrock Rovers FC the double in the Republic of Ireland on Sunday, though after a catastrophic late collapse the Hoops almost ended up with nothing.
by Aidan Fitzmaurice
from Dublin
Season review: Republic of Ireland
Shamrock Rovers celebrate their title triumph ©Sportsfile
Published: Monday 15 November 2010, 11.42CET

Season review: Republic of Ireland

Cup kings Sligo Rovers FC denied Shamrock Rovers FC the double in the Republic of Ireland on Sunday, though after a catastrophic late collapse the Hoops almost ended up with nothing.

Cup kings Sligo Rovers FC denied Shamrock Rovers FC the double in the Republic of Ireland, though after a spectacular late season stumble the Hoops were perhaps happy with their lot.

Champions: Shamrock Rovers FC
Seventeen games unbeaten as they approached the final furlong, Shamrock were well on course for the title before a catastrophic collapse. The run ended with a 5-1 defeat by Dundalk FC in mid-September and Michael O'Neill's side mustered two wins in six subsequent matches. Champions for the past two seasons, Dublin rivals Bohemian FC sensed their chance. They went into the final day two points adrift though – crucially it would turn out – also with an inferior goal difference. A 3-1 victory against Dundalk was therefore not enough as a 2-2 draw at Bray Wanderers AFC saw Shamrock triumph by two goals.

Cup final: Shamrock Rovers FC 0-0 Sligo Rovers FC aet, Sligo win 2-0 on penalties
Goalkeeper Ciaran Kelly starred as Sligo prevailed in front of a bumper crowd of 36,101 in Dublin. Neither goal was breached in 120 minutes and incredibly Kelly maintained that resolve through the subsequent shoot-out, saving all four of Shamrock's penalties. "I went from zero to hero," said Kelly, whose team-mates Eoin Doyle and Gary McCabe both converted. "In the 2009 final I gave away a penalty and we lost – I think this makes up for that."

European places*
Shamrock Rovers FC – UEFA Champions League qualifying
Bohemian FC – UEFA Europa League qualifying
Sligo Rovers FC – UEFA Europa League qualifying
Sporting Fingal FC – UEFA Europa League qualifying

* Exact rounds and entry subject to final confirmation from UEFA.

Surprise package: Monaghan United FC
The second division Ulster club came so close to the most memorable of seasons, reaching the League Cup final before losing 1-0 to Sligo. They ended the campaign with another winner-takes-all meeting, against Bray Wanderers in the promotion/relegation play-off final, only to lose out on penalties.

Player of the year: Richie Ryan (Sligo Rovers FC)
Sligo won both cup competitions and, after ending the campaign with five successive wins, took third place in the Premier Division. Former Sunderland AFC midfielder Ryan was central to the success, even if suspension ruled him out of the FAI Cup final. He is now out of contract: Sligo will do everything they can to keep hold of him.

One to watch: Paddy Madden (Bohemian FC)
Republic of Ireland Under-21 international Madden scored 16 goals in all competitions in 2010, form which has alerted the likes of Scottish Premier League side Celtic FC.

Leading scorer: Gary Twigg (Shamrock Rovers FC) 21

Relegated: Drogheda United FC

Promoted: Derry City FC

Number: 36,101
The 2010 FAI Cup showpiece attracted its biggest crowd since 1945 at the Dublin Arena, venue for the 2010/11 UEFA Europa League final.

Quote
"We won the league title on goal difference but I wouldn't care if we had won it on fair play or the number of corner kicks we had, we are champions of Ireland and that's all that matters."
Shamrock Rovers midfielder Stephen Rice

Last updated: 20/01/11 17.09CET

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