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Stuart McKinley's Irish League predictions

I've a lot to live up to this week after my colleague Graham Luney called Cliftonville's 3-2 win over Ballymena United in the League Cup final correctly - although how he didn't get Crusaders' 6-0 win over Portadown and Warrenpoint's 7-0 hammering of Ballinamallard right I don't know. All matches kick off tomorrow at 3pm.

BALLINAMALLARD UNITED v PORTADOWN

THE way these two have leaked goals in recent weeks I'm expecting this one to be a goal-fest.

Portadown have dropped 13 points since early December. Now seven points behind leaders Crusaders, they can't really afford to drop anything more ­- certainly not against a team third from bottom, but the Mallards are tough to beat at home.

McKinley prediction: Ballinamallard Utd 2 Portadown 3

CLIFTONVILLE v GLENTORAN

LIKE Portadown, Cliftonville's run over the last six weeks has given them an uphill task in trying to retain their league title and the games are now becoming must-win for them.

The Reds have momentum after lifting two trophies in a fortnight, but lose this one and the Glens - who have won six out of nine, including a 2-1 success against Cliftonville six weeks ago - will be above them and the fight for European qualification will become very interesting.

McKinley prediction: Cliftonville 2 Glentoran 1

DUNGANNON SWIFTS v CRUSADERS

THE Swifts are on a good run and can be a match for anyone on their day, but I don't see them getting anything from this one.

The Crues have won seven in-a-row in the league and as well as that the teams below them keep dropping points. If that keeps happening then they'll walk the title race - but there's nothing predictable this season.

McKinley prediction: Dungannon Swifts 0 Crusaders 2

GLENAVON v WARRENPOINT TOWN

THESE two rank highly in the current form table. Warrenpoint have only lost once in their last eight games and Glenavon have taken 11 points from the last 15 available.

Both can move up a place with a win, but I can see a draw and the status quo being maintained.

McKinley prediction: Glenavon 2 Warrenpoint Town 2

INSTITUTE v COLERAINE

INSTITUTE are now without a win in 15 games while Warrenpoint and Ballinamallard have both picked up points. If that continued there stay in the Premiership won't last long. It isn't for the want of trying from manager Paul Kee though, who has done well to bring in new players on a budget that amounts to something along the lines of a chip and a tin of coke each after the match.

McKinley prediction: Institute 1 Coleraine 2

LINFIELD v BALLYMENA UNITED

IT'S a quick return to Windsor Park for Ballymena after their League Cup final defeat last Saturday. If they can play like they did in the second half of that game they'll get something out of the game.

On the other hand, if Linfield play like they did against Ballinamallard on Tuesday night they won't.

McKinley prediction: Linfield 1 Ballymena United 1

Belfast Telegraph