Belfast Telegraph

Irish League predictions: Crusaders take the title while Glentoran play for pride

By Stuart McKinley

With the league title, European qualification and relegation battle all decided there's not a lot to play for other than pride in the six games this weekend, but you know how proud footballers and managers are, so don't expect what has been a thrilling season to end with a whimper. It's been an edge-of-the-seat style season and it's not over just yet (all matches kick-off tomorrow at 3pm unless stated).


(kick-off 2pm)

The reasons for this match kicking off early are not known, but I've a feeling that it's because both teams want to get it over with as soon as possible so they can head for a drink or two and get into off-season mode.

It should have been a much better season for the Sky Blues after they topped the table at one stage, but that's now just a dim and distant memory.

McKinley prediction: Ballymena Utd 3 Dungannon Swifts 2

Ballinamallard United v Warrenpoint Town

The Mallards' problems aren't hard to pinpoint. The second lowest goalscorers in the league also have the third worst defensive record and with Mark Stafford and Davy Kee moving on, it's not going to get any easier.

Warrenpoint have bigger games than this to come in next week's relegation/promotion play-off and they will be looking to get a bit of momentum going into those two hugely important games.

McKinley prediction: Ballinamallard United 2 Warrenpoint Town 2


The Bannsiders are another team who really should have done better. They have had their moments during the season - particularly when they totally dominated Portadown at Shamrock Park back in the autumn, but inconsistency in team selection was reflected in results.

Consistency is something that Institute didn't have a problem with - they have lost 17 of their last 22 games and have scored less than a goal a game.

McKinley prediction: Coleraine 4 Institute 1


It's party time at Seaview as they prepare to get their hands on the Gibson Cup and Glenavon have third place secured so Gary Hamilton may give his young players a bit of experience - and he might even join them for five minutes.

McKinley prediction: Crusaders 4 Glenavon 2


Although they will finish sixth, the Glens will be pleased with what has been achieved this season.

Cliftonville would have expected their challenge to defend the title to have lasted a bit longer, but injuries to key players at key times had an impact - and much as they played it down, the loss of Liam Boyce was a factor as well.

McKinley prediction: Glentoran 1 Cliftonville 1


These two last met at Shamrock Park on the opening day of the season, with hopes that they'd be lifting the Gibson Cup today.

Neither team was tough enough to maintain their challenge right to the end and both squads need investment to be in the mix next season.

McKinley prediction: Portadown 3 Linfield 3

Belfast Telegraph


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