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Season review: Gibraltar

Published: Wednesday 18 June 2014, 10.24CET
Lincoln FC continued their dominance of Gibraltarian football by winning the league and cup double in the domestic game's first season since Gibraltar became a UEFA member.
by Julian Fortuna
from Gibraltar
Season review: Gibraltar
Gibraltar and UEFA Respect flags flying together ©Getty Images
Published: Wednesday 18 June 2014, 10.24CET

Season review: Gibraltar

Lincoln FC continued their dominance of Gibraltarian football by winning the league and cup double in the domestic game's first season since Gibraltar became a UEFA member.

Gibraltar's acceptance into UEFA in May 2013 was not only good news for the national side – it also meant the local domestic league would be allocated two places to participate in European competition for the first time in the 130-year history of the Gibraltar Football Association (GFA). This season, those prizes went to champions Lincoln FC and the team they defeated in the cup final, College Europa FC.

Champions: Lincoln FC
Lincoln claimed their 20th title, and the first since the GFA became a UEFA member, following a 4-1 win against Lions Gibraltar FC in their penultimate Premier League fixture. They finished the campaign unbeaten, their record reading: P14 W11 D3 L0 F66 A6.

"It's going to be amazing," said Lincoln's Ryan Casciaro as he looked forward to European football. "When you are up against players who you watch week in, week out for the big clubs in Europe you can really measure how good you are." His brother Lee Casciaro added: "It will be a learning curve for everybody."

©Ian Martinez / snaprimages.com

Liam Clarke scores Lincoln's cup winner

Cup final: Lincoln FC 1-0 College Europa FC
Lincoln continued their dominance of Gibraltarian football by capturing the Rock Cup for the 15th time, though they needed a late goal from Liam Clarke to see off College Europa. College Europa were one of only three teams to deny Lincoln en route to their 19th championship in 30 years this season, and for 92 minutes they frustrated Mick McElwee's men at the Victoria Stadium. With extra time looming, Clarke swept in the game's only goal to regain a trophy Lincoln had last won in 2011.

European places*
Lincoln FC – UEFA Champions League first qualifying round
College Europa FC – UEFA Europa League first qualifying round

*Subject to final confirmation from UEFA

Player of the Year: John Paul Duarte (Lincoln FC)
Having re-signed last summer after a spell at rivals St Joseph's FRAC, the 27-year-old striker showed why Lincoln were keen on getting him back. He was in lethal form in front of goal. His 22 goals in all competitions helped Lincoln to a clean sweep of titles and with it came a call up to the national team. He was part of the Gibraltar side that famously beat Malta in Faro earlier this month.

One to watch: Jean-Carlos Garcia (Lincoln FC)
Having spent the majority of his youth career in Spain, the 23-year-old right-back was snapped up by Lincoln and has been a revelation. He makes the right flank his own with driving runs, causing problems for opposition defences. Having been left out of the national team squad early in the season, fans were bemused by Allen Bula's omission of the youngster. However, after some fine end-of-season performances he was eventually named in the Gibraltar squad and made his debut away to Estonia in May.

Surprise package: College Europa FC
New ownership, a professional structure and heavy investment meant the 2013 second-tier champions were clearly setting their sights on one of the two European spots. Despite some good early season results, their league form suffered after the Christmas period, denting their title chances. However, College Europa flourished in the Rock Cup and made it to the final, where they narrowly lost to Lincoln. They will now look forward to the UEFA Europa League first and second qualifying round draw on 23 June.

Leading scorer: John Paul Duarte, Lincoln FC (15)

Relegated: Gibraltar Phoenix FC

Promoted: FC Britannia

Number: 14
Promoted alongside College Europa at the end of their first season, the flames engulfed Gibraltar Phoenix as they lost much of their squad during the summer. Unable to source adequate replacements, they finished the campaign with the unenviable record of 14 defeats and no points.

Quote: "Its a nice way to end the season. It was a big occasion. We had let ourselves down the last few years not reaching the Rock Cup final, so it was nice to join the party this year."
Lincoln Manager Mick McElwee reflects after winning the Rock Cup

Last updated: 20/06/14 16.59CET

http://www.uefa.com/memberassociations/association=gib/news/newsid=2114589.html#season+review+gibraltar

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