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Season review: Republic of Ireland

Published: Monday 23 November 2009, 11.42CET
Bohemian FC won back-to-back Irish titles for the first time in their history, but Pat Fenlon's side were pushed all the way by Dublin rivals Shamrock Rovers FC, while Sporting Fingal FC took the cup.
by Aidan Fitzmaurice
from Dublin
Season review: Republic of Ireland
Brian Shelley and Gary Deegan celebrate title success with Bohemians ©Getty Images
Published: Monday 23 November 2009, 11.42CET

Season review: Republic of Ireland

Bohemian FC won back-to-back Irish titles for the first time in their history, but Pat Fenlon's side were pushed all the way by Dublin rivals Shamrock Rovers FC, while Sporting Fingal FC took the cup.

Bohemian FC won back-to-back Irish titles for the first time in their history, but Pat Fenlon's side were pushed all the way by Dublin rivals Shamrock Rovers FC.

Champions: Bohemian FC
Bohemians had the 2008 title wrapped up with five games to spare but 2009 saw a much closer race, as Bohs were only guaranteed the trophy on the final day of the season. A 1-0 defeat away to Shamrock Rovers FC with seven games remaining saw the Gypsies lose top spot for the first time, but they responded by winning their next six games, while Rovers dropped points at home to Cork City FC and Galway United FC. Bohemians ended up winning the race by four points.

Cup final: Sporting Fingal FC 2-1 Sligo Rovers FC
Formed only at the start of 2008, Sporting Fingal FC enjoyed a dream season, as they earned promotion to the Premier Division and then won the FAI Cup final in the space of a week. Coached by former Irish international Liam Buckley, were 1-0 down in the final against Sligo but a Colm James penalty saw them draw level and an added-time goal from striker Gary O'Neill made them the first side from outside the top flight to win the cup in 15 years.

Player of the Year: Paul Keegan (Bohemian FC)
Striker Jason Byrne and goalkeeper Brian Murphy played a big part in Bohemians' success, but former Drogheda United FC player Keegan was the man who ran the show in midfield, missing only two games all season.

One to watch: Conor Powell (Bohemian FC)
The left-back has already been capped by the Republic of Ireland at Under-21 level but a senior call-up could also be on the cards, as the Republic's manager Giovanni Trapattoni has been watching closely.

Surprise package: Shamrock Rovers FC
At the start of the 2008 season, few Rovers fans expected a title challenge as the Hoops had a new manager and a batch of new players and were playing in a real stadium of their own for the first time since 1987. However, with former Northern Ireland international Michael O'Neill in charge, and Scottish import Gary Twigg in sensational form in front of goal (24 league goals in 34 games), Rovers came very, very close.

Leading scorer: Gary Twigg, Shamrock Rovers FC (24)

Number: 5
Five teams from the Republic's capital who will compete in the ten-team Premier Division in 2010 following the promotion of Dublin-based Sporting Fingal and UCD FC.

Quote
"Hunger is the big factor in football. If you're not hungry, then you have nothing. You can have all the skill and ability in the world but you also need a hunger and drive to succeed, and that's what we have; a real hunger in our dressing room to keep going and make ourselves better, to keep winning things."
Bohemian FC coach Pat Fenlon

Last updated: 06/07/10 14.33CET

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