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The Answers To Our 2014 SSE Airtricity League Preview Questions

The Answers To Our 2014 SSE Airtricity League Preview Questions
By John Dodge

Before the 2014 SSE Airtricity League season started we gave you 20 story lines to follow.  Let's see how things went;

1) Can St Patrick's Athletic retain the title?

Nope. In reality the Saints were never really in the title race, despite many pundits believing they had the best squad for much of the season. They could get some redemption on Sunday in the FAI Cup final of course.

2) Can Dundalk avoid 2nd season syndrome?

Absolutely. Dundalk improved significantly on last year's performances and were rewarded with the club's 10th league title.

3) What trophy will Sligo Rovers win this year?

The Setanta Sports Cup. Even though it was a poor season for Sligo overall, they still managed to pick up a trophy for the 5th straight season. A great achievement for any club.

4) Can Trevor Croly turn around Shamrock Rovers?

No. Categorically no. Croly lost his job midway through the season with Rovers struggling to keep pace with the leaders. Pat Fenlon has come in and already shown signs of improvement in Tallaght.

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5) How will Roddy Collins do with Derry City?

Not well. Roddy was sacked early on, leaving him without a full season in the Premier Division since 2001 (with Bohs). Will he be back with Bohs next season?

6) Will Cork City get back among the challengers

Finally, yes. Cork pushed Dundalk all the way and were 45 scoreless minutes away from the title last Friday.  Manager John Caulfield is looking to strengthen again for 2015 and with the backing of the league's biggest crowds, not many will back against them challenging again.

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7) How will Limerick do in their 2nd season in the big league?

Meh. Stuart Taylor lost his job and Martin Russell is in there now. They finished in 6th with 41 points. One place better off, but one point worse off. Next year they may be returning home to Markets Field and it may be more suitable than Thomond Park.

8) Can Bohemians avoid a relegation battle?

Pretty easily in the end. Bohs had early struggles but the signing of Eoin Wearan gave them enough quality to compete with most teams and they were safe with several weeks to go. Losing manager Owen Heary immediately after the season leaves this question up for discussion next season.

9) How many times will Drogheda United finish runners-up this season?

None. A poor season for Drogheda in which rookie manager Robbie Horgan lost his job relatively early. The new combination of Damian Richardson and Darius Kierans improved things dramatically though.

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10) How will Bray Wanderers cope without Mr Bray Wanderers?

On the field they did what Bray Wanderers do; survive. Off the field remains to be seen.

11) Will anyone notice UCD?

Not until the last day when they avoided the automatic relegation spot. They're currently behind after the first leg of the promotion/relegation play off too.

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12) How will Athlone Town do after promotion?

Not well. They lost their first 10 games and manager Mick Cooke was sacked. Keith Long improved them but they ended up 3 points adrift at the bottom of the table.

13) Will Galway FC be welcomed back?

Very much so. The new club looks like securing promotion through the play off. And they'll then turn into the old club again. Another example of the Greatest League in the World in action.

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14) Will Tony Cousins manage to not get Longford Town promoted again?

He tried, but in the end Longford were comfortable winners of the First Division (for the first time in their history).  Let's see how Cousins gets on in the top league now.

15) Can Shelbourne bounce back?

No. They led the division for a while but in the end their young squad ran out of steam. Most Shels fans seemed happy with the squad's efforts throughout but they'll obviously be disappointed to lose to Galway in the play offs.

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16) Are Shamrock Rovers B the first of many?

They might be. Cork City and St Patrick's Athletic are rumoured to be considering adding B teams into the First Division next season. At the same time Rovers new boss Pat Fenlon wonders if the B team is worth it at all.

17) Can anyone else get promoted?

Nope, and they never really looked likely to either. Wexford Youths continue to progress and may be able to feature next season.  For Finn Harps, Cobh and, particularly, Waterford United it's been a very disappointing season.

18) Who will replace Alan Kelly as top referee?

TBD. Neil Doyle and Padraigh Sutton are our UEFA 2nd category referees. Doyle seems to have had more international exposure while Sutton has been selected to referee the FAI Cup final for the first time.  Rob Rogers and Paul McLaughlin have made big steps this season too.

19) How many managers will last the season?

Half the premier division changed managers during the season. Of those who stayed the course, Owen Heary has already left Bohs. Well done to Stephen Kenny, John Caulfield, Liam Buckley, Alan Mathews and Aaron Callaghan.

20) What kind of media coverage will the league get?

The same as always. Sporadic bursts from the national press about good news stories. Plenty of enthusiastic stuff online and in the local press. RTE begrudgingly accepting they should show it.

So that's that then. Most of the story lines proved worthwhile to follow if you did all season. We'll have more end of season stuff over the coming week including our 2014 season awards.  Here's last year's for a flavour of what's to come

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