Dundalk manager Stephen Kenny hailed his side's title triumph as “special” following their 2-0 victory over Cork City at Oriel Park last night.
Second-half strikes from Stephen O'Donnell and Brian Gartland ensured the Premier Division title was back at the border club for the first time in 19 years.
It marked a remarkable turnaround for the fortunes of the Co Louth club, less than two years after they only managed to secure their Premier Division status courtesy of a relegation play-off victory over Waterford Utd.
That triumph came about after the very future of the country's most successful provincial side was put in doubt.
A little over two years on, they're champions of Ireland for a 10th time and set for the Champions' League.
“This is special,” said Kenny.
“This year we were undoubtedly the best side and that's why I always felt we'd win tonight.”
The 42-year-old admitted it was a gamble when he took over at Oriel Park in November 2012 but said he felt he had vindicated himself after being sacked from Shamrock Rovers earlier that year.
“I knew my next job was very important but when Dundalk came to my house and emphasised that they wanted me so much and refused to advertise the post that swayed me. I knew there was traditional passion here but I had to prove myself and really dig deep.”
Kenny is already looking to the future though, setting out his stall to retain the title next year.
“We'll enjoy tonight. In life you can get kicks in the teeth and I'm going to enjoy this with my family tonight.
“I want to push this club on though. I'm very driven and I want to continue to be. This win can really give the players a lot of confidence,” he said.
Meanwhile, Cork manager John Caulfield rued a couple of missed chances in the first half, saying he felt his side needed to score first to win the game.
“It was very disappointing for us to lose the title because we had come to win it,” he said.
“I felt we needed to score first but realistially in the first half we had a chance where the ball came across to Mark (O'Sullivan) at the edge of the box and he missed when Billy (Dennehy) was free at the edge of the box.
“Even at half-time we felt OK but in the second half we lost a bit of concentration for the goal and it was always difficult after that because they play really well but they're good champions.
“We had a chance from a header from Rob Lehane with about 10 minutes to go and we were a bit unlucky but in the second half they dominated to be fair.”