Loughgall welcome the Welders ahead of the Irish Cup semi-final © INPHO / Matt Mackey

BLUEFIN SPORT CHAMPIONSHIP: 23 MARCH PREVIEW

With the International break taking place taking on Saturday this weekend’s Bluefin Sport Championship fixtures are scheduled to take place on Friday night, writes Aaron O'Neill.

At the top end of the table Portadown take on promotion chasing Newry City at Shamrock Park. The Ports seem to have been granted a new lease of life under new manager Matthew Tipton and a win this weekend could propel them up to fourth in the table.

Newry are in fine form ahead of the game as they find themselves unbeaten in their last seven league outings and will be aiming to close the gap at the top of the table on Friday night. Darren Mullan’s are currently second in the Bluefin Sport Championship only four points behind Institute and win for City would narrow the gap to a solitary point setting things up for a thrilling end to the 2017/18 campaign.

Paul Owens’ Limavady United welcome Larne to the Limavady Showgrounds (kick-off 7.45pm). Larne find themselves seven points ahead of PSNI and in seventh place. A win for Larne this weekend would be ideal preparation for the Irish Cup semi-final as Tiernan Lynch’s men prepare to face high-flying Coleraine.

United can leapfrog Knockbreda into ninth place should they clinch all three points. Knockbreda are not in league action this weekend giving the Roesiders an opportunity to move away from the wrong end of the table.

Loughgall take on H&W Welders at Lakeview Park. Dean Smith’s men will be looking to bounce back from last weekend’s derby defeat against Portadown. The Welders will be buoyant as they enjoyed a narrow 2-1 victory last time out against league leaders Institute and could move into second place if results go in their favour.

Loughgall also find themselves in the semi-final stage of the Irish Cup. They will be hoping for three points this weekend to set them up for next week’s fixture against Cliftonville.