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Season review: Northern Ireland

Published: Wednesday 27 May 2015, 9.05CET
Crusaders FC won the Northern Irish Premiership title for the first time since 1997 following a strong finish, while Glentoran FC lifted the Irish Cup for the 22nd time.
by Darren Fullerton
from Belfast
Season review: Northern Ireland
Stephen Baxter guided Crusaders to their first title triumph in 18 years ©presseye.com

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Published: Wednesday 27 May 2015, 9.05CET

Season review: Northern Ireland

Crusaders FC won the Northern Irish Premiership title for the first time since 1997 following a strong finish, while Glentoran FC lifted the Irish Cup for the 22nd time.

Champions: Crusaders FC
The Crues ended an 18-year wait to lift a fifth Northern Irish championship, winning 15 of their last 18 Premiership outings to seal the triumph. "I won the title here twice as a player in the 1990s and I feel incredibly privileged to have led the club to the championship as a manager," said Crusaders boss Stephen Baxter, who celebrated ten years in charge of the north Belfast club in February. "I saw supporters and grown men reduced to tears. It is a very special achievement."

Cup final: Glentoran FC 1-0 Portadown FC
Glentoran enjoyed a second Irish Cup success in three years following a 1-0 victory over Portadown which booked a UEFA Europa League berth for next season. Experienced midfielder David Scullion's decisive strike settled the contest, played at Glentoran's Oval home due to major construction work at Windsor Park.

European places:
Crusaders FC – UEFA Champions League first qualifying round
Linfield FC – UEFA Europa League first qualifying round
Glenavon FC – UEFA Europa League first qualifying round
Glentoran FC – UEFA Europa League first qualifying round

Player of the year: Paul Heatley (Crusaders FC)
The 27-year-old winger scored 29 goals in all competitions this term – notching 27 in the league. During the run-in, he registered 12 times in nine appearances against the division's top six teams to secure the title. "We have a lot of key players, but Paul was the most important," said manager Baxter. "He is the best player in the league."

One to watch: Gavin Whyte (Crusaders FC)
Voted the league's young player of the season, the teenage winger was the surprise package of the campaign. The pacy 19-year-old, who is reportedly on the radar of several English Premier League sides including Everton FC, contributed 11 goals in all competitions in a fruitful debut in senior football.

Relegated: Institute FC

Promoted: Carrick Rangers FC

Last updated: 27/05/15 17.29CET

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