NIFL Championship

There were two games in the Bluefin Sport Championship on Tuesday night, both of which had significant impact at both ends of the table. I’ll be looking back on both those fixtures as well as updating readers on some important off-field news that has happened in the last few days.

Dergview 1 Larne 0

Dergview remain in 11th place in the Championship and as things stand will be in the promotion/relegation play-off against 2nd place in the Premier Intermediate League (PIL), but thanks to this win over Larne they have given themselves a fighting chance as they now go into Saturday’s final league game level on points with Knockbreda. The sole goal of the game on Tuesday night came when Adam Buchanan struck in the 54th minute, Peter Allen’s side were under the cosh for much of the game but held on for a vital win and the battle to avoid that play-off spot goes to right to the wire.

Newry City 0 Harland and Wolff Welders 3

At the other end of the table there is still the battle to see who will secure the final promotion play-off spot, Institute have already secured the league title and with it the sole automatic promotion spot and Newry’s goalless draw against Portadown last Friday seen them secure their place in the play-offs, leaving Portadown and the Welders challenging for the final spot. The Welders took the lead through Jordan Malone and their lead was then doubled by Ross Arthurs. The final goal of the game came through David Rainey. This win moved the Welders five points clear of 4th placed Portadown and guarantees them a place in the top three this season and they still have a chance to overtake Newry as the sides are separated only by goal difference and meet again in the final league game of the season on Saturday.

The 32nd and final Championship games will take place this Friday as all teams play and kick off at the same time, the fixture list looks like this:-

Dergview v PSNI
Harland and Wolff Welders v Newry City
Institute v Portadown
Knockbreda v Limavady United
Loughgall v Ballyclare Comrades
Lurgan Celtic v Larne

In off-field news there were two big pieces of news to come out of the Championship this week: firstly on Monday Ballyclare Comrades announced that they had parted company with manager Clifford Adams. Adams had been in charge at Dixon Park since March 2017 and a promising first half to this season seen the Comrades spend much of their time in the top two, but just three league wins since Christmas has seen them drop to 5th and miss out on a shot at promotion entirely.

Also, just yesterday the Northern Ireland Football League (NIFL) announced which teams had applied for and received their Championship Licences and their Premiership Licences allowing them to play in the relevant divisions next season. Perhaps not surprisingly of the twelve teams in the Championship eleven were successful in receiving their Championship Licence to remain in the division, the only team who did not receive their licence were Lurgan Celtic who finished bottom and are already relegated anyway.

More interestingly is the teams that were successful in obtaining their Premiership Licence, allowing them to take up their place in the Premiership should they finish in any of the promotion spots. Firstly, title winners Institute were successful in getting their licence but will have to play their games at The Oval, home of Glentoran, due to damage at their own ground earlier this season. Newry will also be able to take part in the promotion play-offs as they obtained their licence, and both of these clubs were joined by Ballyclare, Larne and Portadown in getting their Premiership Licences. Interestingly the Welders did not get their licence meaning that this season there will be no 2nd v 3rd play-off in the Championship and instead Newry will go straight into a play-off with 11th place in the Championship.

That’s it for this week but I will return again next week to roundup the last set of fixtures in this season’s Bluefin Sport Championship.