Belfast Telegraph

All bets off as Gibson Cup title chase takes another turn

By Graham Luney

So that's it then. The Gibson Cup is returning to Seaview for the first time since 1997. Crusaders are top of the league and will soon be out of sight.

Don't be rushing off to the bookies just yet. There's a lot more sensational stories left in this title race.

Who would dare predict the outcome from here? Speaking of predictions, my 1-1 draw between Warrenpoint Town and Glentoran went up in smoke in spectacular fashion!

If you are going to get it wrong, you might as well do it in style.

It's the Irish Cup this weekend and a few clubs will probably be glad to take a break from the Danske Bank Premiership.

Cliftonville need a moment of inspiration to end their poor run but when confidence isn't flowing it can be hard to regain.

With two finals on the horizon this month, they need to rediscover their mojo quickly. Four points from six games and now seven points behind Crusaders, there's a few alarm bells ringing at Solitude.

But the champions' title defence is not over - not by a long shot. Tomas Cosgrove's late equaliser at Dungannon Swifts netted a point which, come the end of the campaign, could prove crucial.

Across north Belfast, the Crues are buzzing and boss Stephen Baxter even had the luxury of naming a strong bench containing players of the calibre of Stephen O'Flynn, Barry Molloy and Diarmuid O'Carroll.

It was teenager Gavin Whyte who, not for the first time, stole the show and his progress is a reminder to young players that the Irish League is one of the best environments to develop your game.

As Baxter says, the Crues have momentum and Coleraine's late, late equaliser at Windsor Park was perhaps an indication that the football gods are smiling on the Shore Road boys this season.

A serious injury to Jimmy Callacher is another huge blow to the Blues but boss Warren Feeney still has enough quality to maintain their title assault.

The big guns aren't guaranteed anything this season and that's the way it should be.

Belfast Telegraph


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