Last weekend was another eventful round of fixtures of the Danske Bank Premiership as the 2017/18 title race took yet another twist and turn. With the end gradually coming into sight, ‘three from home’ as it were on Grand National Day, we look forward to another exciting week in Irish League football.
Crusaders v Linfield
For the last few years it has been left to the Blues and Crues to fight it out for supremacy at the summit of the table but this year it is not to be for Linfield. Linfield’s win over Ballymena put them in prime position to defend 3rd place in the league but Crusaders’ slip to a 1-1 draw with Glenavon saw their points gap at the top vanish as they now tie for 1st place with Coleraine.
Coleraine v Ballymena United
Coleraine came from a goal down against Cliftonville to secure the win that would give them parity on points with title challengers Crusaders, with the Irish Cup final now taking a backseat for league priorities a victory over close rivals Ballymena would be the perfect signal of the Bannsiders’ intent. Ballymena’s 2-0 loss to Linfield sought to confirm only that the Sky Blues were confirmed of 6th place in the league by the season’s end. With no league places to gain that is not to say that Ballymena will not be competitive in this fixture with a view to denting Coleraine’s title hopes!
Cliftonville v Glenavon
Glenavon dropped down to 4th following their draw with Crusaders and may need to watch their backs once again as this weekend’s opponents are only 3 points behind them. Glenavon have been mightily impressive this season with a raft of young players breaking through and showing their worth, for Cliftonville it is more a tale of those prodigal boys returning home – Rory Donnelly and Gormley. With Gormley, especially, in rich form along with Rory and younger brother Jay, the Reds will be seeking to climb the league by piecing together a few more impressive wins in their final few league games before the Irish Cup showdown.
Warrenpoint Town v Glentoran
It’s been another hard week for Glentoran with another managerial target committing their future to their current club, this time it was Glentoran legend Colin Nixon pledging his next three years to Ards. Glentoran now travel to a Warrenpoint Town who would require a major shift in either direction to see them finish anywhere but 10th. It’s not been a superb season for Point, particularly losing manager Matthew Tipton at such a late stage but they’ll be hopefully of a prideful strong finish and a wounded Glentoran side may be a perfect opportunity for that.
Ballinamallard United v Dungannon Swifts
The Mallards’ 2-0 win over Warrenpoint has given the Fermanagh side a large slice of hope as they continue to fight against the tide of automatic relegation. As one of four teams in the league with 4 games still to play things are far from finished at this end of the table. Meanwhile, Dungannon’s hopes of a European play off hang by the finest of threads. A 10 gap point separates them from Glentoran in 7th meaning Dungannon must get something from each of their final four games while also relying on the Glens’ results going in their favour.
Carrick Rangers v Ards
Carrick have not had an easy season as they continue to flirt with relegation, currently in a potential play off spot and just 2 points ahead of the automatic drop zone. Ards will be confident of finishing at least 9th with a view to a final push for 8th place at Dungannon’s expense. The County Down club will no doubt be buoyed by manage Colin Nixon’s recently signed commitment to the club for the next 3 years.