Belfast Telegraph

Crusaders win the Danske Bank Premiership after final day thriller

By Gareth Hanna

Crusaders have won the Danske Bank Premiership after a thrilling final day.

It's the third time in four seasons that the Crues have won the title and they had to come from behind against Ballymena to do it as Cathair Friel's goal looked like it could have handed the title to Coleraine an hour into the final day.

But Philip Lowry soon levelled and David Cushley sealed a 2-1 win late on while Coleraine drew 0-0 at Glenavon.

We chat to BJ Burns and Paul Heatley as the celebrations begin after Crusaders FS win the Danske Bank Premiership!...

Posted by Belfast Telegraph Sport on Saturday, April 28, 2018

That result proved enough for Glenavon to finish third ahead of Linfield while Ballinamallard were relegated despite a 3-1 win over Glentoran because Carrick Rangers edged out Warrenpoint Town 3-2.

Elsewhere, Terry Fitzpatrick signed off his career with an injury-time penalty to give Dungannon a 4-3 win over Ards.

Danske Bank Premiership trophy watch! 🏆 NIFL chief Andrew Johnston is at Nutt's Corner with the Gibson Cup as we wait...

Posted by Belfast Telegraph Sport on Saturday, April 28, 2018

Ballymena United 1-2 Crusaders

David Cushley came off the bench to inspire his side to title glory.

The former Ballymena winger first saw his shot saved to set up Philip Lowry for the equaliser before he smashed the winner into the bottom corner from Sean Ward's assist to spark pandemonium amongst the away support.

Cathair Friel had lobbed Ballymena into the lead around the hour mark, beating the offside trap to race clear and bag a vital goal for his side's rivals Coleraine.

And that only paved the way for Cushley's heroics, although they came after an equally-crucial Brian Jensen world class stop to deny Ballymena's Kevin Braniff.

Coleraine 0-0 Glenavon

Coleraine in the end fell just three points shy of title glory, having lost just a single league game all season.

On a frustrating afternoon, Joel Cooper provided the danger for Glenavon while Darren McCauley forced a top drawer save from Jonny Tuffey.

Glenavon finish the season third and will now hope Coleraine can win the Irish Cup to give the Lurgan Blues' a Europa League spot.

Linfield 1-2 Cliftonville

Jude Winchester was in the thick of the early action as he was the man fouled by Robbie Garrett, who was issued with a straight red card.

That proved the Blues' downfall almost immediately as Winchester fired the visitors into the lead, curling a 20 yard finish into the top corner.

It soon got better for the cup finalists as Daniel Reynolds' deflected effort doubled the scores.

Jimmy Callacher added a late consolation but the Blues finish fourth and face the Europa League play-offs.

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