NIFL Championship

It was the last day of the Bluefin Sport Championship on Saturday, much of the season had already been wrapped up with Institute already crowned champions and Newry confirmed as the sole Championship representative in the promotion/relegation play-off. At the other end of the table Lurgan Celtic had already been relegated a few weeks ago but less certain was which side could potentially be joining them as Dergview and Knockbreda were fighting to avoid the spot in the promotion/relegation play-off at that end of the table.

Dergview 2 PSNI 1

Dergview not only needed to win this game but also hope that Limavady could do them a favour against Limavady to be sure of their place in the division next season. Peter Allen’s side were in control for much of the first-half and had a chance to take the lead in the 8th minute from the penalty spot but Ryan Campbell seen his effort saved by Jordan Williamson. Dergview did take the lead in the 36th minute when Campbell set up Adam Buchanan from a free-kick and he gave Williamson no chance with his effort, Allen’s team then doubled their lead just before half-time when he finished off a great team move. Dergview could perhaps have done without the half-time break as whatever Colin Malone said at half-time clearly worked and PSNI came out a different outfit after the break, they pulled a goal back in the 58th minute through Mark Anderson and could have equalised when Lukasz Adamcyzk’s effort came back off the bar but Dergview did enough to wrap up the points and ensure they did their part of the task.

Harland and Wolff Welders 0 Newry City 3

Newry were already certain of their place in the play-off but Saturday’s win confirmed 2nd place for them in the table. Mark McCabe gave them the lead in the 33rd minute when Newry were awarded a penalty and former Newry ‘keeper Robert Robinson was beaten from the spot. Newry doubled the lead two minutes later thanks to a Stephen Hughes goal. The Welders went close in the second half when Ross Arthurs was denied by the woodwork, with 20 minutes to go a Welders player did get his name on the scoresheet but unfortunately it was Lukasz Gwiazda who scored an own goal to complete the scoring for Newry. City can now turn their attentions to the play off where they play Premiership side Carrick Rangers over two legs for the right to play top-flight football next season, the first leg taking place at the Newry Showgrounds this Friday.

Institute 2 Portadown 1

There was little at stake for either team in this game, Stute had already secured promotion and Portadown’s promotion chances had ended so Ports manager Matthew Tipton took the match has an opportunity to blood some young prospects. It was the Ports who went close to opening the scoring in the 12th minute but Adam McCallum’s header was saved by ‘keeper Martin Gallagher. Michael McCrudden opened the scoring in the 26th minute when he fired a shot past 16-year-old Ports ‘keeper, Ruadhan McKenna from just inside the area. Adam Salley was denied by Gallagher at the other end and Jackson Holmes also caused some problems for the Ports defence, Stute doubled their lead with less than 5 minutes of normal time remaining when Sean McCarron scored. The Ports did get on the scoresheet two minutes later when 17-year-old Ryan Latifi scored but it was too late to salvage anything from the game.

Knockbreda 6 Limavady United 1

It’s been a disappointing season for Knockbreda on the whole but when they needed to produce a big performance they certainly did just that and this results ensures that they will be playing Championship football next season while Dergview will face a play-off against Queens University to try and remain in the division. It didn’t take ‘Breda long to open the scoring as Brendan Bennett truck home in the 6th minute, Ryan Logue did then equalise in the 11th minute but a further goal from Jamie Patterson gave the home side the half-time advantage. ‘Breda had a strong start to the second half and made it 3-1 in the 48th minute when experienced striker Michael Halliday found Michael O’Hanlon who scored. Halliday then got himself a goal and was soon joined by Ryan Newberry and to wrap up the win Patterson scored his second goal of the game with a powerful header.

Loughgall 3 Ballyclare Comrades 5

There was little at stake at Lakeview Park on Saturday but that didn’t prevent this game from turning into an eight goal thriller. The game started as it meant to go on with two goals in the first ten minutes, Mark Kelly scoring first for the Comrades before Gary Liggett converted a Peter Campbell cross to equalise. The Comrades would score two further goals before half-time through Michael McQuitty and Chris Middleton and Gary Brown and Kelly added goals number four and five for the Comrades after the break, incredibly at this stage there was still over half-an-hour to play. A Nathaniel Ferris brace reduced the deficit but it was the Comrades that left with the points. Since then the Comrades have announced Stephen Hughes as their new manager, Hughes was previously manager of the Comrades but left in March 2017 due to other commitments but has obviously felt the lure of a return was too good to turn down.

Lurgan Celtic 0 Larne 5

Lurgan Celtic will be glad to see the back of this season as they rounded it off with a five goal thrashing on Saturday. Two goals from Paul Finnegan in the first thirty minutes put the visitors two goals ahead but it was the final ten minutes before the scored again and like buses and musketeers three came at once, through Chris Ramsey, Thomas Stewart and Martin Donnelly. Celtic will be going into the unknown next season as the drop down to the Premier Intermediate League (PIL), in contrast Larne fans will look forward to what will likely be an interesting summer with plenty of changes on and off the pitch.

That’s it for the regular season in the Championship but with plenty of play-off action to look forward to in the coming weeks no doubt I’ll be back with more of my ramblings before too long.