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Season review: Northern Ireland

Published: Tuesday 25 May 2010, 11.16CET
Linfield FC returned to the fore in Northern Ireland, regaining the title on the way to their fourth double in five years while arch-rivals Glentoran FC had to make do with the League Cup.
Season review: Northern Ireland
Jim Ervin (right) celebrates a goal for Linfield ©Getty Images
Published: Tuesday 25 May 2010, 11.16CET

Season review: Northern Ireland

Linfield FC returned to the fore in Northern Ireland, regaining the title on the way to their fourth double in five years while arch-rivals Glentoran FC had to make do with the League Cup.

Linfield FC led the way in a great season for Belfast clubs as they regained the title from arch-rivals Glentoran FC, and also collected the Irish Cup at their Windsor Park home. The Glens had the small consolation of winning the League Cup while Donegal Celtic FC regained top-flight status in a play-off against Institute FC, demoting their rivals in the process.

Champions: Linfield FC
Linfield reclaimed the crown in convincing fashion, defeating closest challengers Cliftonville FC 1-0 in the penultimate round of games. That meant the Blues could afford to lose their last league match – to Portadown – and still finish five points clear. Such a success seemed in serious doubt before the new year after a poor run of results, but David Jeffrey's side had a strong second half of the season and were worthy winners of their 49th championship.

Cup final: Linfield FC 2-1 Portadown FC
Two early goals ensured Linfield completed their fourth double in five seasons by beating Portadown in the Irish Cup final. The Blues opened the scoring with just over a minute gone through on-loan striker Peter Thompson and a tenth-minute header from midfielder Philip Lowry put them in command. The Ports did quickly pull a goal back, through Kevin Braniff, but they could not breach the Linfield defence again.

European places*
Linfield FC – UEFA Champions League second qualifying round
Cliftonville FC – UEFA Europa League second qualifying round
Glentoran FC – UEFA Europa League first qualifying round
Portadown FC – UEFA Europa League first qualifying round
Subject to final confirmation from UEFA 

Player of the Year: Rory Patterson (Coleraine FC)
The 25-year-old enjoyed a stunning season, scoring 41 goals in all, including 30 in the league and five in the Irish Cup. Patterson helped Coleraine reach the League Cup final, which they lost to Glentoran, who have already secured his services for next season. His form earned him a call-up to the Northern Ireland squad, a substitute appearance in the friendly in Albania and widespread acclaim as the division's most impressive performer of the season.

One to watch: Liam Boyce (Cliftonville FC)
The 19-year-old centre-forward scored 19 goals for the Reds, including 16 in the league, leading the line as they challenged for the title, eventually finishing second.

Surprise package: Dungannon Swifts FC
Dungannon only stayed up last season by winning the promotion / relegation play-off against Donegal Celtic on away goals. However, the Tyrone team started the season superbly, even leading the league early on, and ended up finishing in fifth place, ahead of clubs such as Portadown, Coleraine, Glenavon FC, and Ballymena United FC.

Leading scorer: Rory Patterson, Coleraine FC (30)

Relegated: Institute FC

Promoted: Donegal Celtic FC

Number: 1000
Linfield captain Noel Bailie made his 1000th appearance for his only league club on April 24th.

Quote
"This is the best ever title win, not because of the difficult times but because this was the fourth side we were putting together."
Linfield boss David Jeffrey hails his seventh title in 13 seasons in charge of the club.

Last updated: 20/06/10 19.12CET

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