Friday, 17 August 2018
There were some twists already in the first round of fixtures in the Bluefin Sport Championship last weekend. There may be plenty more on Saturday in gameweek two!
Ballyclare Comrades v Loughgall (venue: Dixon Park; kick-off: 3pm)
Both sides go into this game off the back of a strong showing in each of their opening Championship games of the season. Stephen Hughes’ Comrades were comfortable 4-1 winners away to PSNI last Saturday and having retained the majority of last season’s squad – the Dixon Park side will be looking to start their home campaign in similar style this week against Loughgall.
The Villagers may not have picked up all three points in the Friday but they will be happy with a point against neighbours and promotion challengers Portadown at Lakeview Park, as Loughgall drew 1-1 with Gary Liggett on target for the home side.
Carrick Rangers v Dundela (venue: Belfast Loughshore Hotel Arena; kick-off: 3pm)
It was a contrasting start for either side in this fixture, Niall Currie’s bow as new Carrick Rangers boss started with a 1-0 defeat at Tillysburn to HW Welders. Having rebuilt the squad following relegation from the Premiership back in May, the ‘Gers will be looking to bounce back in their first home game of the season against newly promoted, Dundela.
The Wilgar Park side have enjoyed a winning return to the second tier last Saturday against Dergview – as last season’s Premier Intermediate League player of the year Jordan Hughes continued where he left off last season, with two goals for Bryan McCarroll’s side in a 3-1 win over Dergview to get their first points on the board.
Dergview v HW Welders (venue: Darragh Park; kick-off: 3pm)
Norman Kelly’s Welders make the long trip across the province to Castlederg in search of back-to-back wins in the Championship. Their narrow 1-0 win over Carrick Rangers last Saturday, thanks to Scott McMillan’s goal, was the perfect start for the East Belfast outfit following the departure of manager Gary Smyth to Glentoran in the summer.
Home form will be key to Dergview’s survival in the Bluefin Sport Championship, having narrowly avoided the drop last season. Peter Allen’s side were on the wrong side of a 3-1 defeat to Dundela last Saturday.
Larne v Ballinamallard United (venue: Inver Park; kick-off: 3pm)
All expectant eyes were on Tiernan Lynch’s Larne (pictured) side last week as they were surprisingly held to stalemate with Knockbreda, but the Inver Park Reds will have a chance to kick start their season back on their own patch, as Larne play their first competitive game on their new pitch in front of an expected large crowd against Ballinamallard United as two of the division favourites go head to head.
The recently relegated Mallards made a fine return to the Championship after six years in the Danske Bank Premiership as they put Limavady United to the sword at Ferney Park, with Harry McConkey’s men comfortably winning 3-0. Ironically it was the only remaining member of their 2012 Championship winning side, Jason McCartney who opened the scoring on the club’s return to the division.
Limavady United v Knockbreda (venue: Limavady Showgrounds; kick-off 3pm)
Sean Friars’ start to life in the Roesider’s dugout started with a 3-0 defeat to Ballinamallard United last week, with that now behind them, they welcome Knockbreda to the Showgrounds and will be aiming to pick up their first points of the league season. The East Belfast failed to read the script last week, earning a valuable point against Larne, with Brendan Bennett cancelling out Martin Donnelly's goal, for Knockbreda.
Portadown v PSNI (venue: Shamrock Park; kick-off 3pm)
Matthew Tipton's side welcome PSNI to Shamrock Park, for the Ports' first home game of the season. With a return to the Premiership in their sights, it might not have been the ideal start for the club last week against Loughgall but the new look Ports will be boosted by the arrival of goalkeeper Declan Dunne from Cliftonville on loan. PSNI lost their opening game to Ballyclare Comrades by three goals without reply.
Portadown are also kicking off their 'Kids for a quid' scheme which sees under 16's admitted to the game for £1 when accompanied by a paying adult.