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After Sligo Rovers claimed their first title since 1977, Goal.com Ireland looks back on the 2012 season with the individual and team accolades

AWARDS
By Ronan Murphy

The 2012 Airtricity Premier Division season has concluded with Sligo Rovers as deserved champions. A heart-stopping 3-2 win three matches from the end against St Patrick's Athletic wrapped up the title for Ian Baraclough's side - their first Irish top-flight triumph in 35 years.

Drogheda United, surprisingly, claimed second place, spurred on by the goals of Declan 'Fabio' O'Brien while an attractive St Patrick's Athletic edged out last season's champions Shamrock Rovers to finish third in the table.

Rovers were one of two clubs to dispense with the services of their manager during the season with the other being crisis-hit Dundalk, who now face a promotion-relegation play-off.

Monaghan United's withdrawal from the Premier Division during Euro 2012 cast a shadow across the league as a whole and once again raised pertinent questions about the sustainability of the League of Ireland in its current guise.

But that alone could not detract from what has been a good season in Ireland with the title going across the Shannon in style.


Manager of the Season - Ian Baraclough, Sligo Rovers


Sligo Rovers fans were apprehensive when Baraclough was appointed as Paul Cook's successor following the latter's departure after two FAI Cup wins to take over at Accrington Stanley on the eve of the 2012 season and the Bit O'Red's title credentials were in doubt before a ball was kicked.

However, the former Scunthorpe United manager settled quickly in the League of Ireland, making a number of astute signings, and his Sligo side were a joy to watch all season. Remarkably, they lost only one match until the title was wrapped up.

Honouable mention must go to Drogheda United's Mick Cooke, who led the side to EA Sports Cup glory as well as finishing second in the league.

Player of the Season - Mark Quigley, Sligo Rovers


At the beginning of the season, Sligo were reliant on Danny North for goals, but North's injury in Europe brought an early end to his year. Baraclough turned to Mark Quigley, who had started slowly for Sligo and faced a great deal of criticism.

The former Ireland under-23 international finally delivered on the promise he showed with St Patrick's Athletic back in 2007 with numerous stellar displays leading Sligo to their first title in 35 years.

Young Player of the Season - Sean Maguire, Waterford United


The 18-year-old came to the attention of many bigger teams thanks to his free-scoring breakout season in the First Division.

Maguire netted 13 times for Waterford United, more than a quarter of their total goals came through him, as he ended up the league's top scorer.

Signing of the Season - David Cawley, Sligo Rovers


After failing to make the breakthrough at Ipswich Town, David Cawley found himself on the free agent list, but struggled to find a new club.

In January, Cawley was one of Paul Cook's last signings as Sligo Rovers boss, but became a key part of Ian Baraclough's new-look Bit O'Red. Cawley is only 20, and will surely be Sligo's main man for years to come.

Goal of the Season - Chris Forrester v Shamrock Rovers


Back in April, Chris Forrester made headlines around the world for his audacious chip against Shamrock Rovers.

The St Pat's teenager was one of the best young players in the league, and showed his confidence with a deft finish after a neat flick from fellow prodigy Christy Fagan.

Goal.com Ireland's Team of the Season


GARY ROGERS

SLIGO ROVERS


GER O'BRIEN
JASON MCGUINNESS
GAVIN PEERS
IAN BERMINGHAM

ST PAT'S

SLIGO ROVERS

SLIGO ROVERS

ST PAT'S


RONAN FINN
JAMES CHAMBERS
GAVIN BRENNAN
LEE LYNCH

SHAMROCK ROVERS

ST PAT'S

DROGHEDA UNITED

SLIGO ROVERS


GARY TWIGG
MARK QUIGLEY

SHAMROCK ROVERS

SLIGO ROVERS

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