Belfast Telegraph

Relegation battle comes to a climax as two sides fight for Championship futures

 

Turnaround: Dergview manager Ivan Sproule has been inspirational in guiding his side to Championship safety
Turnaround: Dergview manager Ivan Sproule has been inspirational in guiding his side to Championship safety

By Steven Beacom

Limavady United and PSNI are facing a final day of destiny with their Championship status on the line.

The Roesiders are currently bottom and two points behind 11th placed PSNI with just one league game left this season.

If the positions stay the same after Saturday's matches Limavady will be relegated and PSNI will enter the play-offs.

The bottom line for Limavady is that only a win will do when they host Knockbreda.

If they achieve that and PSNI fail to beat Ballyclare Comrades at Dixon Park, then the PSNI will drop out of the division.

Should the PSNI emerge victorious they will live to fight another day via the play-offs.

Ivan Sproule's Dergview looked as though they would be involved in the relegation fight a few months ago but the former Northern Ireland star has proved to be an inspirational force in the dug-out leading them to safety.

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Dergview finish the campaign at home to seventh placed Loughgall knowing victory would take them level on points with the Lakeview Park men.

If there will be a lot of tension at the foot of the table, everyone knows where they will finish in the top six.

Champions Larne will end a thrilling season away to Ballinamallard in their last match before the Irish Cup final against Crusaders.

And the desire for success seems to be spreading in the town as Larne Tech Old boys clinched promotion to the NAFL Premier Division following this week's 2-0 win over Orangefield.

Harry McConkey's Ballinamallard have been boosted with Richard Clarke and John Connolly agreeing new contracts to stay at Ferney Park next season.

"Their consistency and leadership this season on the pitch has been particularly pleasing and to know that they will be in the spine of the Ballinamallard team next year is a great boost," said McConkey.

"As I have spoken about, we want to see consistency going into the next year and we are working hard to retain the bulk of the squad. The experienced heads are just as important as the younger ones and we aim to have a good balance to help us grow as a team.

"I am thrilled that both players have committed for another year - they are both well respected individuals and the finest professionals that a manager could ask for".

Carrick Rangers and Portadown will meet in the play-offs next week.

Before that they face each other in the final fixture of the regular league season, with fourth placed Dundela travelling to H & W Welders, in sixth, for an east Belfast derby.

Bluefin Sport Championship: Ballinamallard v Larne, Carrick Rangers v Portadown, H & W Welders v Dundela, Ballyclare Comrades v PSNI, Dergview v Loughgall, Limavady United v Knockbreda (all kick-off Saturday at 3pm).

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