There were wins at the weekend for Larne, Warrenpoint, Linfield, Glentoran and Cliftonville on Saturday while Portadown and Glenavon drew 1-1 at Shamrock Park in the first round of fixtures in the 2021/2022 Danske Bank Premiership.

I attended Linfield v Crusaders as a neutral on Saturday, my first time attending an Irish League game not considered by the result in some time.

Linfield obviously went into the game as champions but having lost a number of key players over the summer I was interested to see how they started their defence of the title against a Crusaders side who simply have to improve on last seasons showing.

In all, Linfield I think were well worth their win with a goal in each half from Christy Manzinga sealing the three points. I felt Crusaders lacked a bit of sharpness at a cutting edge for much of the game and looking back on the game I can’t think of a single save that Blues ‘keeper Chris Johns had to make.

The good news continued at Windsor Park on Saturday evening when it was announced that David Healy had signed a three-year extension to his contract as manager, with the deal lasting until the end of the 2023-2024 season.

Few could argue with the Northern Ireland record goalscorers managerial track record so far, he has lifted four league titles, two Irish Cups, a League Cup and a County Antrim Shield in his time in charge at Windsor and has also won the Northern Ireland Manager of the Year three times but the season ahead could prove his toughest challenge yet.

My picks for the title, Glentoran, managed an away win against Dungannon thanks to goals from Robbie McDaid, Conor McMenamin and Ruaidhrí Donnelly but they perhaps did not win as convincingly as some may have thought.

Cliftonville and Warrenpoint both came from behind to win their home games against Carrick and Ballymena 2-1 respectively and in the highest-scoring game of the weekend Tiernan Lynch’s Larne side got the better of Coleraine at Inver Park, winning 4-2.

Here are the full results from the weekend: –

Larne 4-2 Coleraine

Portadown 1-1 Glenavon

Cliftonville 2-1 Carrick Rangers

Dungannon Swifts 2-3 Glentoran

Linfield 2-0 Crusaders

Warrenpoint Town 2-1 Ballymena United

It of course means very little at this stage but here is how the league table looks after the first set of games: –

POS TEAM P W D L F A GD PTS
1 Larne 1 1 0 0 4 2 2 3
2 Linfield 1 1 0 0 2 0 2 3
3 Glentoran 1 1 0 0 3 2 1 3
4 Cliftonville 1 1 0 0 2 1 1 3
5 Warrenpoint Town 1 1 0 0 2 1 1 3
6 Glenavon 1 0 1 0 1 1 0 1
7 Portadown 1 0 1 0 1 1 0 1
8 Dungannon Swifts 1 0 0 1 2 3 -1 0
9 Ballymena United 1 0 0 1 1 2 -1 0
10 Carrick Rangers 1 0 0 1 1 2 -1 0
11 Coleraine 1 0 0 1 2 4 -2 0
12 Crusaders 1 0 0 1 0 2 -2 0

 

The Premiership action continues tonight, some games have been postponed due to international call-ups but there are still the following games kicking off at 19:45: –

Carrick Rangers v Warrenpoint Town

Cliftonville v Coleraine

Crusaders v Portadown

First up with his predictions this time is Carrick fan, Adrian.

Adrian

Carrick Rangers 2-1 Warrenpoint Town

Cliftonville 1-1 Coleraine

Crusaders 1-1 Portadown

Richard

Carrick Rangers 2-3 Warrenpoint Town

Cliftonville 1-2 Coleraine

Crusaders 1-2 Portadown

Cameron

Carrick Rangers 1-1 Warrenpoint Town

Cliftonville 0-2 Coleraine

Crusaders 3-1 Portadown

Once again, it is three points for a correct result and a point for getting the outcome of a game correct.