Action from Cliftonville v Linfield last season (c) Presseye


There’s some big clashes amongst five Danske Bank Premiership matches this Saturday, we preview all the games in our weekly preview.

Ballymena United v Warrenpoint Town (venue: Ballymena Showgrounds; kick-off: 3pm)

The Sky Blues bounced back from their first defeat of the campaign, with a 1-0 victory against Carrick Rangers last Friday evening. David Jeffrey was boosted with the contract news that Jude Winchester, Johnny Addis, Scot Whiteside, Andrew McGrory and Steven McCullough all signed new extended deals at the Showgrounds for last season’s runners-up.

Stephen McDonnell’s Warrenpoint are still the only side without a point in the Danske Bank Premiership this season. Their fourth league defeat of the season on Saturday past to Cliftonville at least marked their first goal of the campaign, but they will be keen to recreate the type of performance they showed on their last visit to the Ballymena Showgrounds in March when they derailed the Sky Blues’ title hopes with a 2-1 win.

Cliftonville v Linfield (venue: Solitude; kick-off: 3pm)

The game of the day is at Solitude – the scene of many epic battles between these two cross-city rivals. Paddy McLaughlin’s influence has had great impact on his Cliftonville team as they start the weekend in second place in the table. The Reds defeated Warrenpoint Town 5-1 last weekend with a Rory Donnelly brace amongst the goalscorers.

David Healy’s Blues return to Danske Bank Premiership action after an extended break through their Europa League heroics. Their focus can now return to retaining the Gibson Cup starting with a difficult trip to their old foes from Cliftonville – they will have to do that without star forward Shayne Lavery who is on international duty with Northern Ireland, having featured on Thursday evening in the friendly against Luxembourg to become the first player from the NI Football League to win full international honours since 2017.

Coleraine v Dungannon Swifts (venue: Coleraine Showgrounds; kick-off: 3pm)

Oran Kearney’s Bannsiders have enjoyed an unbeaten start to the campaign and head into a game which is third against fourth at the Ballycastle Road on Saturday. Coleraine turned out another superb performance last weekend, sweeping aside Glenavon 4-0 at Mourneview Park but have yet to win at home in the league this season.

It was a first defeat of the season Kris Lindsay’s Swifts at league leaders Crusaders last week. They will hope to get back to winning ways against the Bannsiders. The County Tyrone side were featured in this week’s Irish League Behaviour podcast from Stangmore Park which is still available on the BBC Sounds app.

Glentoran v Larne (venue: The Oval; kick-off: 3pm)

A trio of wins cumulating with Monday’s victory over Institute on Sky Sports on Monday has left the Oval faithful in buoyant mood heading into a big test of their credentials against newly promoted Larne. The Glens came out on top the last time these two sides met competitively in the BetMcLean League Cup last season by the odd goal in five at the Oval.

Tiernan Lynch’s side have enjoyed a free week following the postponement of their scheduled game against Linfield last week. Their last outing was an impressive draw away at Seaview against top of the table Crusaders a fortnight ago – since then they have added another new signing to their ranks in former Ipswich Town midfielder Conor McKendry.

Institute v Crusaders (venue: Brandywell Stadium; kick-off: 3pm)

Still without a permanent manager, Institute must pick themselves up from defeat in their first ever live television game on Monday night against Glentoran at the Oval. Paul McLaughlin and Sean Friars continue to steer the ‘Stute ship as they currently only have a single point on the board going into this clash against the league leaders.

Stephen Baxter’s Crues have started the season superbly well and remain unbeaten after their top of the table clash against Dungannon Swifts last week. They won all three meetings between the sides last season and could give a debut to new signing Paul McElroy, who joined last week from Dungannon Swifts.