Irish League Preview

Northern Ireland

All matches kick off at 3pm, 25th February 2017 unless stated otherwise.

Ballinamallard United v Ballymena United

Ballinamallard host Ballymena fresh from their Northern Ireland League Cup victory that was the subject of a Sky Sports broadcast last Saturday. The Mallards sit in 10th place currently, twelve points clear of the relegation play-off spot, knowing that only a disastrous end to the season will see them slip into the dangers of relegation. Ballymena’s 2-0 victory in last Saturday’s Cup Final will give them a confidence boost as they look to secure a place in the European play-offs, they still have a game in hand of those around them.

Carrick Rangers v Glenavon

Carrick’s disappointing loss in the NI League Cup final will have done nothing for their mindset as they look in real danger of having to face a relegation play-off. The task of facing Glenavon will not make them any happier, Gary Hamilton’s Lurgan side have had a mixed season to date but are very capable on turning on the style and dominating teams.

Cliftonville v Coleraine

Cliftonville were unable to grab all three points despite dominating against Glentoran during last Friday’s televised game. The Red will be missing the suspended Curran who was a star for them during that match last week. Coleraine are on a run of eight consecutive wins including the considerable scalp of Linfield, they’ll be looking to cement their place in the hunt for European qualification.

Dungannon Swifts v Ards

Time is running out for Dungannon to place themselves in the top six when the league splits and having lost their last four league games they really need something here to stop the rot. Ards had been on a poor run themselves before putting three goals past bottom placed Portadown without reply. This one may not be a classic for the neutrals but expect a hard fought game for both sides.

Glentoran v Linfield

Belfast’s Big Two – or more excruciatingly unfunny ‘Belclasico’ – Linfield are desperately chasing a nine point gap to league leaders Crusaders meanwhile Glentoran are hoping for a miracle to push them into the top six for a European play-off. This game has hit local headlines for all the wrong reasons as some Linfield supporters clubs are promoting a boycott of this match for entirely bizarre reasons, their main intent being to financially harm Glentoran.

Portadown v Crusaders (5.30pm)

A game that is being played at a later time to accommodate a Portadown Supporters’ initiative. Crusaders then discussed having the game reverted to a 3pm kick off to allow a player to make a flight to England for work purposes – yes, really. 5.30pm it remains as top of the league travels to bottom of the league. Portadown are still reeling from a 12 point deduction imposed on them this season while Crusaders hope to continue their steady approach to retaining the league title.