Opinion

It hardly seems that long since the final whistle blew at Windsor Park on the 5th May and Oran Kearney’s Coleraine side lifted the Irish Cup but the Irish League is back on Saturday when the Danske Bank Premiership campaign kicks off. Also starting on Saturday is the Bet McClean League Cup with four ties being played in the first round, the Championship and Premier Intermediate League (PIL) also get back underway in the coming weeks and the team at Over the Turnstile (OTT) will be keeping you covered with all the action.

At this time of year all the pundits throughout the footballing world have their say on how they believe the season is going to go and where the silverware will end up come the end of the season so the team at OTT have given their predictions on who will win the Premiership, League Cup and Irish Cup as well as who they believe will be relegated, who will be the Premier League’s top goalscorer and who they believe this season’s surprise package might be. Up first is our team leader, Matt McKay.

Matt

League: Crusaders
Relegated: Warrenpoint Town
Surprise Package: a resurgent Cliftonville to push back into the title reckoning!
Top Goalscorer: Joe Gormley (Cliftonville)
League Cup: Coleraine
Irish Cup: Glenavon
Side note: I’m very much looking forward to seeing Newry City AFC in the top flight. It’s been an arduous journey for their fans but one we all respect. Credit to them.

Rodney

League: Crusaders (unfortunately)
Relegated: Institute
Surprise package: sneaky feeling Ballymena United might do OK this year, maybe push into 4th….!
Top scorer: Mitchell (Glenavon)
League Cup: Coleraine
Irish Cup: Linfield (heart ruling head here a bit!!)

Henry

League – Coleraine
Relegated – Institute
Top Goalscorer – Joe Gormley
League Cup – Linfield
Irish Cup – Cliftonville
Surprise Package – Ards to possibly get sucked into relegation fight

Keith

League – Crusaders
Relegated – Warrenpoint Town
Top Goalscorer – Joe Gormley
League Cup – Coleraine
Irish Cup – Cliftonville
Surprise Package – Newry City, what a great story, fair play to all involved.

Bryan

League: Crusaders
Relegated: Institute
Surprise Package: Ards. I like the business they’ve done and have added experience to the youthful talent they already have. They will be inconsistent but easily enough for safety and possibly more.
Top Goalscorer: Joe Gormley (Cliftonville)
League Cup: Glenavon
Irish Cup: Crusaders

Cameron

League: Crusaders
Relegated: Institute
Surprise Package: Newry
Top goalscorer: Andrew Mitchell (Glenavon)
League Cup: Glenavon
Irish Cup: Crusaders

For the record the opening day fixtures taking place tomorrow are:-
Coleraine v Warrenpoint Town
Dungannon Swifts v Ballymena United
Glenavon v Linfield
Glentoran v Cliftonville
Institute v Newry City
Crusaders v Ards (Monday at 7:45)

And the League Cup first round fixtures are:-
Dundela v Knockbreda
Lurgan Celtic v Armagh City
PSNI v Banbridge Town
Queens University v Lisburn Distillery

So with all the talking now done we’d simply like to wish all players, coaches, managers, supporters and volunteers from across Northern Irish football the best of luck for the upcoming season, let’s hope it’s as dramatic as the last one.

In the meantime if you want to read more predictions on the upcoming 2018-19 Danske Bank Premiership season then you can check out Henry’s roundup on how he thinks each of the twelve teams will fare by clicking here.