Best team won the league, and they are here to stay

Cliftonville boss Tommy Breslin celebrates
Cliftonville boss Tommy Breslin celebrates

At the end of another magical Danske Bank Premiership season, it is hard to deny that the best team won.

Cliftonville’s quality once again prised its way to the surface as they clinched back-to-back titles.

Tommy Breslin’s side have held fans in thrall with their attractive, easy-on-the-eye brand of football.

The Reds shouldered the weight of expectation to retain the Premiership trophy for the first time in their history.

And they did it in style.

True, there were some moments of doubt earlier in the season.

Back in November Cliftonville were labouring in mid-table as they struggled to adjust to life as defending champions.

Their title obituary was being written by rival fans, with confident taunts of ‘one season wonders’ shadowing their every move.

But in the face of adversity, Breslin refused to panic. Instead he used his calming influence to get the best out of his players.

And they duly delivered.

It has been a romantic success story at Cliftonville, a club with an indomitable community spirit that has willed its way to victory.

Breslin, his players, chairman Gerard Lawlor, officials, volunteers and supporters have gelled into a formidable force that has dominated the Irish League landscape over the past two years.

And while Saturday’s presentation of the Gibson Cup was a time for reflection, there was also the confident declaration that Cliftonville are here to stay.

You sense that Breslin and his players are not satisfied with two Premiership titles, as historic as they are.

This group of players are determined cement Cliftonville’s name at the top of the Premiership pile.

Standing in their way will be a Linfield side with a new manager at the helm.

Warren Feeney will look to galvanise the Blues into a renewed effort following the departure of David Jeffrey after 17 years.

It is a massive challenge for the inexperienced Feeney, but one the former Northern Ireland striker is relishing.

Hopefully next season lives up to the billing.