Mark Quigley converted a controversial penalty two minutes from time to seal Sligo Rovers’ first League of Ireland top flight title for 35 years.
The 3-2 win over second placed St. Patrick’s Athletic took the Bit O’Red eight points clear at the top with now just two games of the season to play.
Local boy Rafael Cretaro bagged a first half brace for the Connacht outfit who looked as if they were going to stroll to the win they needed at the end of the opening 45 minutes but the Saints mounted a stirring second half fightback in what turned out to be a very entertaining encounter and excellent advertisement for Irish football, unlike what had transpired at the Aviva Stadium the night before by vastly higher paid compatriots.
Cretaro’s first goal of the evening came when he placed the ball past Saints’ goalkeeper Barry Murphy after being put through by a smart pass from Pascal Millien.
The sell-out crowd of over 5,000 souls didn’t have long to wait for the second and it was the Tubbercurry man who popped up again as he scored from Ross Gaynor’s corner following a flick-on from Gavin Peers.
With the title slipping from their grasp, Pat’s boss Liam Buckley changed things around and the Inchicore men got back into the match when Christy Fagan fired home following a fantastic chipped through ball from Seán O’Connor on 53 minutes.
The visitors equalised on the hour mark when Chris Forrester beat Sligo ‘keeper Gary Rogers after a short free-kick from O’Connor.
Sligo were not to be denied though as a controversial penalty decision saw ex Pat’s striker Quigley slot home the spot kick after Conor Kenna was harshly adjudged to have handled inside his own box.
Pat’s players were incensed with the penalty decision as both O’Connor and Danny Ventre were sent off with the visitors having very little time to get back into the game, which was greeted with tumultuous scenes of celebration by the home crowd as the imminent final whistle blew.data-num-posts="2" data-width="470">