With the Irish Premiership season coming to a close, all teams will be looking to get the most out of the remaining fixtures. Larne are currently top and hoping to secure their first league title, while champions Linfield are in hot pursuit. On the other hand, Cliftonville, Glentoran, and Crusaders have European ambitions, while teams lower in the standings have to fight for either championship or play-off spots.
Larne are destined for a title if they can maintain their current five-point lead over Linfield. The Invermen have had a commanding lead for some time and are hosting Glentoran this Friday in their first post-split match, with the visit of Linfield to Inver Park on the penultimate day of the season promising to be decisive.
Linfield, meanwhile, are aiming to grab their fifth consecutive Premiership title. Although they are five points behind leaders Larne, the Blues are the defending champions and have the League Cup in their trophy cabinet. Nevertheless, to guarantee a secure second place and secure automatic European qualification, they must make up the five points difference.
Cliftonville have dropped to third in the table, but their ambitions for European football are still very much alive. If the Reds are unable to take the title, they will be aiming to regain second spot and the automatic European ticket that comes with it.
Having started the season strongly, Glentoran now find themselves four points off Linfield and nine off Larne. Although their title hopes may be all but over, the Glens will be eager to leapfrog their Big Two Rivals and clinch an automatic European ticket.
Crusaders, who narrowly missed out on the title last season, are still in contention for second place and European qualification, with six points between them and Linfield. In addition, their upcoming Irish Cup final with Ballymena United could be very beneficial in their pursuit of European football.
Coleraine are in the unusual position of being in the top six, yet having no chance of contention for the top two. Instead, they are eager to finish fifth or higher, and thereby avoiding a potential pre-play-off qualifier against the team in seventh.
While Glenavon and Carrick Rangers are currently seventh and eighth respectively and vying for a play-off spot, Ballymena United are nine points off Glenavon in ninth and need to make up a lot of ground. The Sky Blues will be hoping to finish on a high, despite their choppy season, with a potential European tour.
At the bottom of the table, it is all to play for between Newry City and Dungannon, who are both level on points in their bid to avoid the relegation/promotion play-off position. While both teams should avoid automatic relegation with Portadown cut adrift, they will both want to scrape clear of the relegation battle and make sure they are safe from a play-off.
This is a very exciting period of the Irish Premiership season and with so much to play for it promises to be an exciting finale.
The Northern Ireland Football League is a global leader in the field of football and offers teams in the Irish Premiership the opportunity to qualify for international tournaments and more. It’s a key platform for the players, coaches, and fans of Northern Ireland and the neighboring countries, with an increasing number of teams in the Irish Premiership striving to compete in global football. David Healy is the manager of the champions Linfield and has led the Windsor Park team to an impressive fifth consecutive Premiership title success. He has also managed teams around the world, such as Scotland’s Rangers FC and the Northern Ireland national team.