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Irish League talking points: Is the Premiership now a two-horse race as Glentoran lose while Linfield and Coleraine win again?


Was today the day Glentoran's title chase ended?

Was today the day Glentoran's title chase ended?


Was today the day Glentoran's title chase ended?

And then there were two?

There are now six points between second and third in the Dankse Bank Premiership after top two Linfield and Coleraine continued to keep the pace while Glentoran were beaten by Cliftonville at the Oval.

Here are the day's Irish League talking points:

Carrick Rangers 0-2 Linfield: Kirk claims a double as Blues stay in

Kirk Millar insisted both of Linfield's goals belonged to him as the Blues stayed four points clear - now 10 ahead of third place - with their fifth successive league win.

While his second was a superb free-kick, the first was a little more scrappy as Daniel Magill's attempted clearance smashed off Millar and rolled over the line.

"It was two," he smiled. "You have to claim those. It was quite lucky, it bounced off their player, hit me and went in but you take those."

The second marked a first free-kick goal for Millar this season, and not before time.

"I was never so glad to see it hit the back of the net," he said. "I think if I hadn't scored, the boys would have been on me. There have been four or five this season that I haven't scored.

"You always want to hit form at this stage of the season. There's no chat about (winning the league). That's our main focus but we have to take it one game at a time."

Ballymena United 0-2 Coleraine: Canning targets more goals as Coleraine keep pace

Coleraine defender Aaron Canning continued his stunning season as the centre-half netted his side's second goal in a 2-0 derby win.

It was his fifth league goal of the campaign, just three shy of his total for the 10 previous seasons combined.

Still, he's not keen to stop there.

"It was good to get it and I'd like a few more before the end of the season," he said.

"It's always nice to score. It killed the game off to a certain degree. There was still time left but it knocked the stuffing out of Ballymena a bit."

Coleraine remain four points behind the Blues with seven games to go and they're not going to give up easily.

"We have to look after ourselves," Canning added. "We'll accumulate as many points as we can and see where it takes us.

"Derbies are always tough games. We knew what we had to do today and we got the three points."

Glentoran 0-2 Cliftonville: Revenge is sweet as the Reds deal huge blow to Glens' title hopes

Cliftonville captain Chris Curran netted his third goal of the season to open the scores at the Oval as the Reds dealt a potentially fatal blow to their hosts' title push - Glentoran now 11 points behind Linfield.

It was a dress rehearsal for the Irish Cup semi-final (whenever it may be played), but Curran says it was the last time the sides met that were on their minds rather than the next one.

"We just wanted to right the wrongs the last time we met at Solitude when they turned us over," he said. "That plays on your mind when they come to your ground and beat us comfortably 2-0. That's hard to admit but they did. We were more thinking about that than the game in two weeks."

"The performance was really good. I think we've turned a corner the last two or three weeks. Our performance levels have been much closer to what we would expect for ourselves."

It marks a welcome return to form for the Reds, who had just one win in seven league games before today since they were joint top of the table on January 11.

"I don't think we really changed anything," Curran said. "It's just football. It's difficult to sustain that level all season. The Christmas period took a lot out of us but there are no excuses. It's more about how you react rather than dwelling on it."

The Reds remain 10 points behind the Blues. Is the Gibson Cup beyond them?

"It's just about picking up maximum points," he said. "We can't really control what Linfield and Coleraine do other than when we play them."

Crusaders 2-1 Institute: Jordan Owens changes the game for the Crues

Crusaders stayed level on points with their derby rivals the Reds, and 10 behind Linfield, with a comeback win at Institute.

Behind to Conor Tourish's 70 seconds opener, Crusaders overturned the deficit within 13 minutes of the start of the second half.

It was no coincidence that those goals, one for Philip Lowry and the other Paul Heatley's second league goal since November, came after the introduction of Jordan Owens.

"We had to try something different than the first half," said Rory Hale. "Jordan gave us that different out-ball and after a few minutes we were back in the game. Heats hasn't had the rub of the green so it's great to see him back on the score-sheet.

"Anything can happen. We just have to keep plugging away."

Dungannon Swifts 4-4 Warrenpoint Town: Lindsay never lost faith

Dungannon manager Kris Lindsay says he remained calm and collected throughout a frenetic relegation battle at Stangmore Park.

The Swifts went into the match 10 points clear of the bottom two and were hoping to take another huge step towards survival.

Despite taking an early lead, Dungannon found themselves 4-2 down after 74 minutes.

Even with so much at stake, and Town threatening to close to within seven points, Lindsay says he never doubted his side.

"It shows a bit of the character of that group that we managed to come and draw," he said.

"When Warrenpoint went 4-2 up, there were 16 minutes left. That was plenty of time, they way we were playing and the chances we were creating. I was always confident we could get back into the game. Obviously I didn't expect it to go to the last kick but we got there in the end.

"Rhys deserved that for his performance. It probably feels like a defeat for Warrenpoint.

"We'll take the point and move on. They don't close the gap on us."

And in the Championship....

The top three kept up the pace as Portadown remaining six clear having played a game more than the two chasers.

Matthew Tipton's side beat PSNI 2-0 while second-placed Ballinamallard saw off Dundela 1-0.

In third, Loughgall stayed with seven points of the top, with their game in hand, by easing past 10-man Newry City 3-0.

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