NIFL Championship

While most of the attention may have been on the Danske Bank Premiership kicking off on Saturday (you’ll be able to read Matt’s Premiership roundup elsewhere today on Over the Turnstile), it was also the first round of the BetMcLean League Cup. Perhaps part of the reason the first round of this competition slips under the radar is due to the fact that there are only four ties played in this round with Annagh United, Ballyclare Comrades, Dergview, Dollingstown, Larne, Limavady United, Loughgall, Moyola Park, Newington YC, Portstewart, Sport & Leisure Swifts and Tobermore United all receiving byes into the second round. While there may not have been many matches there was certainly plenty of action and I’m here to look back on the first round.

Dundela 1 Knockbreda 3

Last season’s Premier Intermediate League (PIL) champions, Dundela, kicked off their 2018-19 season at home to Knockbreda on Saturday with the Championship veterans coming out on top on this occasion. ‘Breda took the lead in the 56th minute when Ryan Newberry played in Brendan Bennett who got to the ball before Duns’ keeper Ryan McBride to put the visitors 1-0 up. Newberry doubled Knockbreda’s lead shortly after and Tiarnan McNicholl made sure of the win ten minutes from time with Christopher Watts’ consolation for Dundela coming too late for the Duns.

Lurgan Celtic 4 Armagh City 0

Lurgan Celtic put the disappointment of last season’s relegation behind them to get Gerard McMahon’s managerial reign off to a perfect start at Knockramer Park on Saturday. Celtic took the lead in the 4th minute when David Magee rounded City ‘keeper Conor Larkin and the unfortunate Caio Ferreira turned the ball into his own net in the process of trying to clear the danger. Magee got his own name on the scoresheet in the 49th minute and completed his brace two minutes from time, with a Peter McCann goal sandwiched in between, to complete a comfortable victory for Celtic.

PSNI 1 Banbridge Town 0

Championship side PSNI managed to overcome PIL side Banbridge on Saturday but were pushed all their way by Stuart King’s men who may have come away from Newforge Lane disappointed that they were unable to force extra-time. The only goal of the game came in the 33rd minute when Tony Tumelty’s cross from the left was met by Dylan Wilson who scored past Gerard McErlean. PSNI could have been 2-0 up before the break but Tumelty’s long range lob beat McErlean but not the crossbar. Banbridge looked much stronger in the second half but were unable to find their way past the PSNI backline and bow out of the League Cup at the first round.

Queens University 3 Lisburn Distillery 4

The last time these two sides met it was in a battle for a potential promotion slot in the penultimate game of last season, on Saturday they met in the first round of the League Cup after facing off in the league, Irish Cup, Intermediate Cup and Steel and Sons Cup in recent seasons. Distillery came out all guns blazing and goals from Matthew Ferguson and James Wright had them 2-0 up inside three minutes. Ferguson hit the crossbar before adding this second and the Whites third on the half hour mark. There was still time for summer signing, Francis Dugan, to have a goal disallowed and for Alan McMurtry to hit the woodwork for a second time that afternoon. The Whites extended their lead further in the 52nd minute thanks to Dugan and appeared to be cruising to victory. However, a Ryan McCready brace and a further strike by Daniel Hanna made it a nervy 15 minutes for Distillery supporters by in the end they held out to get the job done.

The next round of the competition sees the top end Championship teams from last season and the twelve Premiership teams enter the competition, with the draw to take place at a later date.

That’s it for now but if you fancy more you can read the Over the Turnstile’s teams predictions for 2018-19 HERE

Or if you fancy reading about some international football you can read our latest article on Northern Ireland defender, and former Irish League player, Gareth McAuley’s possible next move HERE.