Saturday 18 November 2017

St Patrick's Athletic crowned champions after beating Sligo

Anto Flood, St. Patrick’s Athletic, in action against Evan McMillan, Sligo Rovers
Anto Flood, St. Patrick’s Athletic, in action against Evan McMillan, Sligo Rovers
President of Ireland Michael D. Higgins and President of St. Patrick's Athletic Philip Mooney
Raffaele Cretaro, Sligo Rovers, in action against Daryl Kavanagh, St. Patrick’s Athletic
Gavin Peers, Sligo Rovers, in action against Anto Flood, St. Patrick’s Athletic
St. Patrick's Athletic's Anto Flood is congratulated by manager Liam Buckley after coming off as a substitute
St. Patrick’s Athletic supporters. Airtricity League Premier Division, St. Patrick’s Athletic v Sligo Rovers
Daniel McDonnell

Daniel McDonnell

A season that started with their ambition being questioned will end with St Patrick's Athletic as league champions for the first time since 1999.

Fittingly, Liam Buckley's men secured the club's eighth title with a 2-0 victory over holders Sligo Rovers at a jubiliant Inchicore.

The Saints suffered a setback last winter when assistant manager Trevor Croly left for Shamrock Rovers and brought three key players with him.

However, under Buckley's stewardship they regrouped and, ultimately, proved they had the bottle to get the job done by delivering in the pivotal matches with their main challengers when it counted.

After seeing off Dundalk last month, they passed the chequered flag in style here with a stunning first half strike from midfielder Greg Bolger sending them on their way,

After a lively 30 minutes where defending champions Sligo Rovers had threatened - with Evan McMillan guilty of wasting an early free header - Bolger picked the ideal time to score his first league goal of the campaign. Collecting a loose ball 25 yards from goal, the midfielder stepped into space and unleashed a thunderbolt that flew into the top corner past Gary Rogers.

Crucially, Buckley's charges added to their advantage before the interval, producing a fine team goal that illustrated the strength which has made them champions. John Russell, in action against his former club, burst from deep to make inroads into the Sligo area and square for central striker Anto Flood who converted from close range to prompt wild celebrations.

That was the sucker punch for Rovers who were unable to mount a successful fightback. Their best chances came in the final quarter with Saints keeper Brendan Clarke producing a fine double stop to keep out Alan Keane and David Cawley. After that it was the countdown to the final whistle which was greeted by a pitch invasion to get the party started.

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