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It's down to the wire: Northern Ireland’s sporting heavyweights aim to land a knockout blow on rivals

 

By Graham Luney

Fortune will only favour the brave today as Northern Ireland’s sporting heavyweights aim to land a knockout blow on rivals in the chase for trophy glory.

The Danske Bank Premiership title race is a tense final day shoot-out between Linfield and Crusaders this afternoon while the Ulster rugby team face a crunch game against Ospreys at Liberty Stadium.

Ospreys sit fourth in the league standings and in the final play-off spot but Ulster are just a point behind with two games left. For coach Les Kiss and his men, their season is on the line when the action gets under way at 3pm.

“We need to win to make sure we can get the second win which guarantees the play-off,” said Kiss (right). “One of us loses and it is a distinct advantage for the other team.”

At the same time in north Belfast, Linfield and Crusaders will chase their title dreams.

The Blues sit top, two points ahead and with a goal difference of 19 superior to the Crues, so a draw at Cliftonville would be enough to net the club’s 52nd championship.

But Crusaders will celebrate an historic third title in a row if they beat Glenavon at Seaview and David Healy’s side lose at Solitude, where Tommy Breslin is back as interim boss of the Reds. A home win would secure a Europa League play-off clash at Solitude for Cliftonville.

Healy said: “When a new manager comes in, you always expect a response — it’s going to be a tough game but I can’t wait for it.

“We’re on a great winning run and we’re not going to Solitude to sit behind the ball and go for the draw. We’ve gone toe-to-toe with Crusaders for the last five or six months and now we’re top with one game remaining.”

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