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Ndo - My best yet

THE third league medal of his career -- and the sweetest for Joseph Ndo after the current Sligo Rovers side ended the club's 35-year wait for a league trophy and sealed the deal by beating St Patrick's Athletic.

Just weeks after neighbouring Donegal won the All-Ireland title in Dublin, another team from the north-west ensured a weekend of hangovers across the region as the 3-2 win over some visitors from the capital, St Patrick's Athletic, made sure that the 2012 league title was wrapped up with two games to spare.

It wasn't Sligo's best performance of the season and they needed a late and hotly contested penalty to win the game and the title, but their record this season of just one league defeat and their thrilling style of play made sure that Ian Baraclough's men are worthy champions.

Baraclough, the soft-spoken Englishman who took over the club just days before the start of the new season, has made a big impression with the way he and his team have gone about their business this season. It can only be hoped that when Sligo kick off their Champions League campaign next July, they will still have the ex-Scunthorpe boss at the helm as he's bound to be in demand across the water after this.

As with all Sligo sides, the current Rovers crew is a mixture of the local (Sligo boys like Raff Cretaro, Alan Keane, David Cawley), the imported (Dubliners such as Gavin Peers, Mark Quigley and Jason McGuinness), and foreigners (such as Scouser Danny Ventre and Scot Liam Buchanan).

One key man for Sligo this season is Cameroonian Ndo, who had one of his best seasons since moving to the Irish scene a decade ago, and despite winning leagues with Shelbourne and Bohemians, he says the 2012 success was the most precious.

"I have won things before in Ireland, but I think this one was the most special and most enjoyable," Ndo told the Evening Herald.

"When I first signed here with Sligo I knew in my head that I could help the club win things and I am just grateful that first Paul Cook and then Ian Baraclough trusted me to do the job. This is the best feeling. We are the best footballing team in the country and we deserved to be champions. We are a very confident team, we knew that we had the players who could make a difference. We didn't have a very big squad but we did have players who could make the difference in a game, the difference between winning and losing matches. We knew that from the start," added Ndo.

"For me this is the best team I have played for. The difference from when I was at Shelbourne and Bohs is that at those clubs the other players were already at the top of their game when I went there, but here at Sligo we had to build a team, we progressed together year after year and that's why we are the best team I have been with.

"In my three years here, the progress we have made has been unbelievable so can you imagine where we could be in five years?

"We have the Champions League to look forward to and that's our goal now as we want to progress all the time. In 2010 we were third, in 2011 we were second and now we are first, so we want to make more progress. The next step is to try and do well in the Champions League."

Sligo fans had waited 35 years to see their side crowned champions but for a long period on Saturday it seemed as if the wait would go on even longer.

All was rosy at the Showgrounds midway through the first half as early goals from Cretaro had put Rovers 2-0 up after only 23 minutes. But the home side seemed to back off and Pat's managed to score in the second half, with goals from Sean O'Connor (53 minutes) and Christopher Forrester (60 mins). Pat's could have gone in front late on when sub Anto Flood struck the crossbar, but it was Sligo who came back to score, Quigley stroking home a penalty.

"We didn't panic," added Ndo. "Even though we conceded two goals to them we knew we could score again and we did," added Ndo.


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