Danske Bank Premiership

It’s been a well-anticipated start to the 2018-19 NIFL Premiership season. Crusaders have progressed toward full-time football, Newry City are back in the top division and the Irish League returns to The Brandywell.

Coleraine 3-0 Warrenpoint Town

Last season’s runners-up Coleraine got their campaign off to a fantastic start by putting three goals past Warrenpoint without reply at the Coleraine Showgrounds. Ian Parkhill’s fierce strike from inside the box gave Coleraine the lead. Stephen Lowry made it two on the cusp of half-time as he got the ball just before Jonathan Parr and finished into the gaping net. The scoring was finished just after the second half began when Parr came out of his box to collect a long ball forward, but the ball evaded his touch. Eoin Bradley was on hand to side-foot the ball into the unattended goal.

Dungannon Swifts 0-2 Ballymena United

The Sky Blues took the lead on 33 minutes when Stephen McCullough’s inch-perfect pass from his own half found William Faulkner inside the Dungannon box. Faulkner executed a fantastic lob over goalkeeper Alex Moore. Less than 10 minutes after half-time, Ballymena had doubled their lead. Ryan Mayse was fouled in the area and Tony Kane stepped up to open his scoring account for the season. Chris Hegarty was sent walking on 77 minutes when he received a second yellow card for another foul on former teammate Mayse.

Glenavon 0-1 Linfield

Glenavon had a golden opportunity to open the scoring in the early stages of this game when Chris Casement was adjudged to have handled the ball in the box. Andy Mitchell stepped up but was to see his effort clear the frame of the goal and Linfield breathed a sigh of relief. Linfield took the lead around the half hour mark. New signing Daniel Kearns, a former Glenavon player, managed to squeeze the ball underneath Jonny Tuffey.

Glentoran 1-2 Cliftonville

In a rematch of last season’s European play-off final, Glentoran squandered a first-half lead as Cliftonville secured victory at The Oval. Before kick off a moment’s appreciation for the late Ron Manley was observed by both clubs and their fans. John McGuigan started things off with a neat finish off the post from inside the box. The Reds came roaring back in the second half as Joe Gormley struck to equalise from Chris Curran’s cut back pass. In the dying moments of the game, Jay Donnelly sealed the win with a cool finish from 10 yards out.

Institute 1-0 Newry City

It was a historic day all around here as phoenix club Newry City took on Institute in the first Irish League match at The Brandywell in 47 years. Michael McCrudden’s solitary goal in the first half was enough to seal the win for ‘Stute. A fantastic ball over the top of the Newry defence found McCrudden’s run and the captain sidefooted the ball home.

Crusaders 4-2 Ards (Monday 7.45pm)

League Champions Crusaders began the defence of their title with a victory over Ards at Seaview but it wasn’t exactly plain sailing. Michael Carvill scored the opening goal 22 minutes in before debutant Rory Patterson doubled the lead just after the half hour. Gareth Tommons struck back almost immediately to halve the Hatchetmen’s advantage. Rory Patterson had a chance to take his own tally to two goals when presented with a penalty but his chipped effort went over the crossbar. 10 minutes into the second half, Gareth Tommons scored a second to level the scores. Twenty minutes before time, Jordan Forsythe restored Crusaders’ advantage before Declan Caddell made the result secure in added time.