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Sligo boss Cook lands top award

PAUL Cook was last night named the Airtricity/Soccer Writers Association of Ireland Personality of the Year for 2010.

The Sligo Rovers boss, who led his side to an EA Sports Cup and FAI Ford Cup double, saw off competition from Shamrock Rovers counterpart Michael O'Neill and four other nominees.

Having denied O'Neill the league and cup Double in November, Cook came out on top of the first battle of 2011, with the duo looking set to do battle for the Airtricity League title this season. It was first blood to the westerners at a ceremony at Dublin's Conrad Hotel last night.

There was some consolation for the Hoops, with Alan Mannus winning the Goalkeeper of the Year award for his part in their first league title in 16 years and a European run that saw them beat Israeli side Bnei Yehuda and take on Italian giants Juventus.

But it was Sligo who were rewarded for their historic season, in which the revived Bit O'Red also finished third in the league, playing a style of football that won them plaudits all over the country.

They beat Monaghan in the final of the League Cup with a 1-0 win in September, before they claimed the FAI Cup in dramatic fashion in November.

Four penalty saves from goalkeeper Ciaran Kelly ended the club's 16-year wait for the trophy, after 120 minutes failed to separate the two Rovers.

Also nominated for the award were Bray Wanderers manager Pat Devlin, Sligo stars Joseph Ndo and Richie Ryan and Hoops pair O'Neill and striker Gary Twigg.

Mannus saw off Kelly and Dundalk's Peter Cherrie to land the goalkeeping gong.

Irish Independent