Graham Luney's Irish League predictions
Hearts are beating just a little bit faster at both ends of the table in the JJB Sports Premiership.
The Big Two are eyeing the biggest prize of all and the obvious question is who will crack under the pressure? Meanwhile, it’s all hands to the deck at Dungannon Swifts, Newry City and to a lesser extent, Glenavon, where the iceberg is still visible right ahead. All game kick off at 3pm tomorrow.
Coleraine v Crusaders
CRUSADERS are still coming to terms with the news that Davy Magowan will be suspended for the Irish Cup final. Wouldn’t it be refreshing to believe that the Irish FA will show mercy, understanding and compassion by granting an amnesty for Irish Cup Finals when suspensions are handed out. Don’t dwell on that thought too long or you will be disappointed. How many Irish Cup finals will Magowan get to play in? While the rules are clear, what is also clear is that the punishment on this occasion certainly does not fit the crime. Magowan will now have to take his frustration out on Coleraine, Cliftonville and Linfield in the league.
The Crues won this fixture 5-2 earlier in the season. They won’t repeat that scoreline but should net the points, particularly if the Bannsiders defend like they did against Linfield.
Luney Prediction: 0-2
LADBROKES ODDS: 7/4 Coleraine; 5/4 Crusaders; 11/5 Draw
Dungannon Swifts v Ballymena United
Sky Blue ears will no doubt still be stinging after Roy Walker’s verbal volley in their direction after the 4-0 thrashing dished out by Newry City.
United minds may have been wandering to a cocktail bar in Gran Canaria but they seem to have forgotten that they are playing for their futures at the club.
But the result of this fixture clearly means a lot more to the Swifts who are staring into the abyss, six points adrift of the already doomed Bangor and also Newry City.
The outlook for the club who were proud participants in the Setanta Cup looks very bleak.
Luney Prediction: 0-2
LADBROKES ODDS: 11/8 Dungannon; 8/5 Ballymena; 11/5 Draw
Glentoran v Lisburn Distillery
GLENTORAN fans were a bag of nerves at Seaview on Tuesday and no wonder. There’s a league title on the line and the faithful have seen their side struggle to show consistency. The only question that needs to be asked is, will Glentoran hold their nerve? If they do, they deserve to be champions. If they don’t, they only have themselves to blame. There will be no pressure in the away dressing room where Gary Muir (pictured) is satisfying his lust for goals.
Luney Prediction: 2-1
LADBROKES ODDS: 4/9 Glentoran; 5/1 Distillery; 11/4 Draw
Institute v Glenavon
The Lurgan Blues now lie eight points clear of the Premiership drop-zone with three games left to play. Has anyone ever commented on Marty Quinn’s capacity to perform miracles? Another win tomorrow will secure their top flight future and it promises to be a brighter one with Quinn on the driving wheel. Stute seem to have got their Irish Cup hangover out of their system, but the spoils could be shared tomorrow.
Luney Prediction: 1-1
LADBROKES ODDS: 11/8 Institute; 8/5 Glenavon; 11/5 Draw
Linfield v Cliftonville
THE Irish Cup semi-final on Tuesday must mean more to Cliftonville than this one but that doesn’t mean they are going to roll over and let the Blues tickle their stomach. All Linfield can do is keep the pressure on Glentoran by winning their matches. They have the character to do that. A bigger question for me is whether the Glens have the character to finish the job.
Luney Prediction: 1-0
LADBROKES ODDS: 8/13 Linfield; 7/2 Cliftonville; 5/2 Draw
Newry City v Bangor
A 4-0 win for Newry City — words you don’t hear often. You won’t hear them tomorrow again but they will taste victory. Suddenly, the border boys have their tails up and that renewed momentum and confidence will carry them to three points and across the line marked Premier League survival.
Luney Prediction: 2-0
LADBROKES ODDS: 8/11 Newry; 16/5 Bangor; 9/4 Draw