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Barstooler: 5 things we learned from last weekend’s League of Ireland action

The wait is over for Sligo fans, while Waterford are a step close to a Premier Division return.

Sligo lift the trophy
Sligo lift the trophy
Image: INPHO/Donall Farmer

Sligo Rovers – worthy champions

THEY MAY HAVE lost their final two games of the season, but with the title already wrapped up, Sligo Rovers finally got their hands on the trophy at the Showgrounds on Friday night.

The party was well underway before the Bit O’Red kicked off against Shamrock Rovers but it was the Dubliners who looked the hungrier of the two and deservedly sealed a 2-0 away win.

It is a magnificent achievement for Ian Baraclough, his backroom staff and everyone involved in the club to earn the right to be called champions for the third time in its 84-year history. You cannot be classed a truly great team in just one season however, and it will be interesting to see if they can hold onto their best players for next year with many new contracts yet to be signed and scouts from England and Scotland sniffing around. Hopefully, the group remains intact ahead of their tilt at the Champions League.

Twigg bows out on a high

After scoring two in his final game in Tallaght last weekend, outgoing Shamrock Rovers striker Gary Twigg said his farewells with another double against the champions. Two typically clinical finishes from the Scot took his season tally to 22 goals, an incredible feat in what has been described as just an okay season for Twigg.

The 28-year-old, who has completed a move to Portadown, will be fondly-remembered and sorely missed by League of Ireland fans.

Another individual who has headed for the Hoops exit door is Brian Laws. Coming in on a short-term contract as temporary director of football after Stephen Kenny sacking, as expected Laws won’t be staying in Ireland beyond that and has agreed to take charge of Scunthorpe for a third time.

End-of-season awards

Around this time each year, the announcement of the PFAI awards nominations leads to much debate and deliberation. With five players in the Team of the Year and two among the four-strong shortlist for Player of the Year, Sligo unsurprisingly dominate. Drogheda boss Mick Cooke, meanwhile, wasn’t too happy at the fact that not one of his players has been included after they finished runners-up in the league. The voting is done by the league’s players however, so there really is no one to blame but them.

Our money is on Mark Quigley to pick of POTY, for those asking.

Waterford book place in play-off final

Friday night’s draw with Longford Town in their promotion play-off second leg sees Waterford United progress to the final, where a place in the Premier Division is on the line. With Monaghan United pulling out of the league earlier this year, bottom-placed Dundalk are the opponents for tonight’s first leg at Oriel Park.

It’s been a difficult season for the Lilywhites, who were on the brink of going out of business, but they will be desperate to retain their top tier status and recover for next season. The Blues have suffered play-off disappointment in the past but will be keen to end a five-year spell in the First Division.

Read a preview of tonight’s game here.

Goal of the Season

Over the weekend, we brought you our Goal of the Season contenders and, last night, MNS picked their favourite eight of the 2012 campaign. There was nothing in it between the top two, but we’ve gone for Chris Forrester’s audacious lob over Oscar Jansson ahead of Mark Griffin’s wonder-goal against in the Louth derby as the winner. Enjoy.

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Ben Blake

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