THE DUST is beginning to settle after our historic league victory. The rumour mill has gone into overdrive once again and no better place than Sligo to get a story going.
The day of the game the yearly contract situation reared its head once more in the national media with Jason McGuinness and Mark Quigley frustrated that negotiations had not begun on contracts. I understand where they are coming from, but I also appreciate where the club stand. The major problem with being a professional footballer in Ireland is that most contracts are 40 weeks. This leaves players in a perilous situation especially those with mortgages and families.
If you step away and look in at our league I don't believe people realise how big of a mess our league is in. The club has pushed the boat out this year with our biggest ever weekly budget and also provided a new stand at the railway end. The committee who are volunteers have put in trojan work over the season and have played a major role in our off field success. I do believe we need to act quickly and these few weeks are crucial with many players seeking employment. We have so much to entice players here and no better man than Ian Baraclough to promote our club and attract top players.
The final gamei of the season against Shamrock Rovers was a complete anticlimax for me as I just wanted the game to end and see us lift the beautiful league trophy.
I know people were disappointed with our performance on the night, but in defence of the lads it's extremely hard mentally to have the same focus when you know the job is done. On the other hand Shams had so much to play for and automatic qualification for Europe was still a possibility. I thought they had more drive than us on the evening and Gary Mc Cabe playing between our midfield and defence picked up a lot of ball in that pocket.
The star of the night was Gary Twigg who cemented his place as one of the greatest strikers to play in our league. His first goal was remarkable to strike the ball off the bar and react so quickly had us all gobsmacked in the Showg round's . His second goal was a typical Twigg finish as he showed remarkable composure to roundGary Rogers and make it 2-0. We Sligonians showed our football knowledge as fans to clap him off the field in what was a wonderful gesture.
It was a night full of highlights. Wasn't it great to see the 77 team on the field? and Sean Fallon jnr accepting his father's caps. The obvious highlight off the night was Danny Ventre receiving the trophy thus sending the Showground's wild. It was great to see the field free of supporters giving the players, management and families enjoying their moment of glory. The trophy will travel the county and province over the next year and bring great joy to many people. I loved every minute of bringing the FAI Cup round and would advise every player to enjoy the experience.
The players' players of the year nominations were announced during the week and it was no surprise that Jason Mc Guinness and Mark Quigley were nominated with Ronan Finn and Sean O Connor. It's Jason all the way for me as he was awesome all year. I think his performances were second to none, but its his qualities as a person on and off the field,his professionalism and the respect he commands from his fellow players and his leadership skills make him my player of the year. I would have loved to have shared a field on his side and a dressing room with the man. I think Mark is lucky to be selected not down to his ability, but the fact he had a six game ban at the start of the season. He played a major role in our title win and him coming off the bench when we were two down against Cork City to score twice was a turning point in us going forward to claim the league title.
Lastly I would like to congratulate Emma Hansberry on her wonderful performances in Serbia with the Irish side recently. She helped the ladies under 19s to top the group with goals and some inspirational displays.