The Irish Premiership Preview of the Week

Dr. Grant Campbell of the ‘Campbell’s Footballs’ podcast (a.k.a. Stato) discusses his predictions and thoughts each week in the Danske Bank Premiership in Northern Ireland. Grant will provide his thoughts on the upcoming league matches and offers his predictions.

Game week 3 Results – How did I fare?

MatchesStato’s PredictionsActual scoreline
Linfield v Crusaders1-12-1
Cliftonville v Carrick Rangers2-03-0 (1pts)
Coleraine v Glentoran2-12-1 (3pts)
Glenavon v Dungannon2-00-0
Larne v Ballymena United2-12-0 (1pt)
Warrenpoint Town v Portadown2-11-1

Last week, I got 3 correct outcomes and one perfect score from the third round of matches. An improving performance from me but it could have been even better.

Player of Week 3 – David McDaid (Larne)

This week’s player of the week is an easy one.

With the game at Inver Park 0-0 after 73 minutes between Larne and Ballymena United, it looked like it was going to be a frustrating afternoon for Tiernan Lynch’s side who dominated a lot of the match but failed to convert any of their opportunities against the Sky Blues.

Step forward substitute David McDaid (pictured).

2019-10-04 - Larne v Glenavon | NI Football League
Acknowledgement: NI Football League

Known affectionately as “McDadi” by my good friends from The Waffle Irish League Podcast, McDaid came off the bench and coolly slotted home two excellent finishes to settle the game.

McDaid is an Irish League legend having spent a lot of time at clubs such as Coleraine and Cliftonville as well as a stint in the League of Ireland before moving to the Inver Men. His goal return is something to behold with Marshall Gillespie pointing out that McDaid has bagged 57 goals in 83 appearances for Larne. He has also scored five goals in his last four league games as well. Inver Park is his home as well: McDaid has scored over 80% of his goals for Larne at Inver. Quite a remarkable stat.

Larne have certainly made an impressive start and McDaid has been one of many factors in their quick start out of the traps this campaign.

There is no doubt he will be a large protagonist if they go onto win any silverware this season.

Team of Week 3 – Cliftonville FC

Cliftonville win my team of the week award for Week 3.

Cliftonville Football Club - Home | Facebook

After losing to rivals Crusaders in Matchday 2, Cliftonville were up against Carrick Rangers at home last Saturday. However, for much of the game, they found the going tough against a well drilled side set up well by Niall Currie.

It was not until the hour mark they flexed their muscles and goals from Thomas Maguire, Conor McMenamin and Joe Gormley settled proceedings at Solitude as the hosts won 3-0.

Cliftonville have yet to concede a home goal this season so far and look solid all over the pitch. Richard Brush was back to his best after his mistake at Crusaders last week with a couple of decent saves too. However, it is at the top end of the pitch where the Reds showed their quality.

Paddy McLaughlin continues to do a fine job in the Reds dugout and their is little doubt in my mind that they will be in the mix for silverware come the end of the season, particularly if they continue to get their home form right.

Onto this week’s games and my thoughts.

Saturday 7th November – Ballymena United v Crusaders, 15.00 KO, Ballymena Showgrounds, BBC Sport NI website

Both these sides meet at the Showgrounds after losing away from home last weekend at Larne and Linfield respectively.

This will be an interesting battle as there are a few players on either side that will fancy scoring against their old employers.

I thought Ballymena defended well last week at Larne but didn’t create too many opportunities of their own. Ross Glendinning made two outstanding saves in the first half, tipping a header from Joshua Robinson onto the bar and saving brilliantly from Ronan Hale. He’s a keeper who is impressing me regularly in between the sticks for the Sky Blues. Glendinning was particulalry impressive on the opening day at Coleraine also.

Ballymena United Football Club Squad Details - Ross Glendinning (2017-18)
Acknowledgement: Ballymena United

Crusaders did well in the second half at Windsor Park last Friday night and can perhaps be slightly unfortunate not to have gotten something from their match against the Champions. Adam Lecky got his first goal for his new club and it’ll be interesting to see if he can kick on from that when he heads back to visit his old team on Saturday.

I am going to go for a game with lots of goals here. Similarly to the Linfield match, I expect Ballymena to come out and give Crusaders problems particularly from set pieces. I also have a feeling David Cushley, like Lecky, will want to make an impact against his old employers on Saturday. Jordan Owens (pictured) will also pose a threat for the Ballymena defenders.

County Antrim Shield: Baxter weighing up options for quarter-final tie -  BBC Sport
Acknowledgement: BBC

With that in mind, I am going for an entertaining draw and I think if you offered that to Steven Baxter and David Jeffrey at full time, I think they would take it.

Stato’s Prediction: Ballymena United 2-2 Crusaders

Saturday 7th November – Carrick Rangers v Dungannon Swifts, 15.00 KO, Taylor’s Avenue, BBC Sport NI website

The side who are pointless so far this campaign face the team who are goalless at Taylor’s Avenue on Saturday (pictured). It’s fair to say both teams have not had the best of starts to the new season.

Carrick have faced three of last season’s top six already and, although been competitive, have nothing to show for their efforts so far. The fixture list to date has certainly not been kind to the Amber Army having played Linfield, Larne and Cliftonville; two of them away from home.

For the Swifts, they have yet to score so far this campaign but did play better at Mourneview last weekend. They did ride their luck though as Glenavon missed a penalty and arguably could have had another one in the second half.

Dungannon were well beaten by Larne on the opening day and were disappointing in their only home match against Warrenpoint in Match day 2. It has been a season of few positives for manager Kris Lindsay and his team so far.

Carrick Rangers Football Club 2019-20
Acknowledgement: Carrick Rangers

Even at this early stage in the season, this game feels like a huge six pointer. Whoever loses this for me is in big trouble already.

I fancy Carrick to get their first win of the season with a narrow, nervy home win. Niall Currie’s side for me just have a little bit more quality with Lloyd Anderson and Alexander Gawne particularly exciting to watch and I think that will be the difference at the Belfast Loughshore Arena on Saturday afternoon.

Stato’s Prediction: Carrick Rangers 1-0 Dungannon Swifts

Saturday 7th November – Cliftonville v Warrenpoint Town, 15.00 KO, BBC Sport NI website

Cliftonville look really good right now at Solitude.

Two league games played at home this season. Four goals scored. None conceded.

It’s a good return for Paddy McLaughlin and his troops as his side next entertain Warrenpoint at home on Saturday. Joe Gormley (pictured) is off and running in the league too and when he gets going, teams and defences better watch out. As I keep saying, they don’t call him Joe “The Goal” for nothing.

Cliftonville striker Joe Gormley signs new contract with the club - Belfast  Live
Acknowledgement: Belfast Live

Warrenpoint did well to get a draw at home last week against Portadown especially after finishing the game with nine men. Colm Deasy and Gavin Peers (pictured) cannot have any complaints at receiving their marching orders against the Ports. Their lack of discipline could have cost Barry Gray’s side dear but in the end the Milltown side did manage to battle hard to grab a well earned point.

Warrenpoint Town FC » Building on Experience
Acknowledgement: Warrenpoint Town

I’ve been impressed with Warrenpoint so far this season in that they look a lot better defensively under Barry Gray but that will be severely tested here against one of the contenders for the title. You have to go back to 2016 for the last time the Point got anything at Solitude in the League and 2018 for their last victory against the Reds, albeit at Milltown. I just cannot see these stats changing in this match.

The last four meetings between these two sides have an aggregate score of 14-2 to the team in Red and with that in mind, I am predicting a comfortable victory for Paddy McLaughlin’s side on Saturday. I also back the Reds to keep a third consecutive home clean sheet.

Stato’s Prediction: Cliftonville 3-0 Warrenpoint Town

Saturday 7th November – Glenavon v Coleraine, 15.00 KO, BBC Sport NI website

Glenavon head into their third home match of the season still looking for their first win at Mourneview Park while Coleraine will be looking for a third straight league victory.

I am a bit unsure as to where Glenavon are at currently. They were the better side against Dungannon last week but just did not take their chances. In fact, it feels like a long time since the Lurgan Blues last won a Premiership match. You have to go back to the 8th February’s 2-1 win at home to Crusaders for the last league win Gary Hamilton’s men had in a competitive league fixture.

I like the look of Daniel Purkis and Jordan Jenkins (pictured) up top but they have to be scoring more goals than they are at the moment. It was good to see Jonny Tuffey back in goal too last weekend. I do feel the Lurgan side are better with him in between the sticks.

Tuesday Chat Wth Jordan Jenkins – Glenavon Football Club
Ackowledgement: Glenavon Football Club

Coleraine seem to be back on the bike after that opening day loss at home to Ballymena. They were 2-0 up and dominant up until James McLaughlin’s red card against Glentoran but at the end they were slightly hanging on with ten men.

I like the way Oran Kearney is trying to create high energy, particularly in midfield. Stephen Lowry, Ben Doherty (pictured) and Evan Tweed were impressive at the Showgrounds last weekend. Stephen O’Donnell at the back also had an excellent game too.

Ben Doherty: 'We are lucky that we can still get up every morning, work and  see our family and friends' - BelfastTelegraph.co.uk
Acknowledgement: Belfast Telegraph

Glenavon haven’t beaten Coleraine in the league since 2018 when they thrashed them 4-0 at Mourneview. Two of the goal scorers that day are no longer at the club: Mark Sykes is at Oxford United and Andrew Mitchell is now at Glentoran.

I am tipping Coleraine to keep their good form going and I think they’ll narrowly leave Lurgan with all three points. I got the Bannsiders score prediction right last week when they beat Glentoran 2-1 at home and I fancy them to win by the same scoreline here.

Stato’s Prediction: Glenavon 1-2 Coleraine

Saturday 7th November – Portadown v Linfield, 15.00 KO, BBC Sport NI website

Portadown have certainly been handed a rough couple of home fixtures on their return back to the top flight.

They lost 3-0 on their opening home game back in the Premiership to Coleraine and on Saturday they face an imperious Linfield outfit.

Matthew Tipton seemed satisfied with their draw at Milltown last week against Warrenpoint. Portadown did a lot well in the game but lacked the quality on a consistent basis to go on and get all three points. Stephen Murray (pictured) scored an absolute screamer in the game though – one worthy of goal of the month for October in my opinion. I think he’ll be a huge player for them this season along with people like Aaron Burns and Paddy McNally.

Stephen Murray - Portadown Football Club
Acknowledgement: Portadown FC

Linfield, as I said, are rampant just now.

Three straight league wins and another solid performance against Crusaders last Friday have put David Healy’s side joint top with Larne on maximum points. Kirk Millar and Navid Nasseri impressed again. Andy Waterworth’s ‘Panenka’ penalty was just ridiculous and Niall Quinn came up with an exquisite header to win the game. Conor Pepper (pictured) also impressed me again too.

Conor Pepper (@Conor_Pepper) | Twitter
Acknowledgement: Linfield FC

I fancy Linfield to make it four from four on Saturday at Shamrock Park with a fairly comfortable away win. I just think they have a little bit more quality and experience than Tipton’s men but I do think it will be a competitive game. I am also backing Waterworth to continue his fine goal scoring form.

Stato’s Prediction: Portadown 0-2 Linfield

Saturday 7th November – Glentoran v Larne, 17.30 KO, BBC Sport NI website

The evening game this week sees Glentoran, still searching for their first league win of the season, hosting the only team apart from Linfield with a 100% record so far in the league: Larne.

I do not know why Glentoran have started so slowly. They were unlucky to lose out late on at Solitude but they should have beaten Glenavon in their first home game of the season and for much of the match at Coleraine last week they were outclassed. Mick McDermott (pictured) is a good manager but he needs time to gel this side together. Will he get that though? I sense on social media that some Glens fans are getting a bit restless at their sides slow start to the season. I think they need to show patience with Mick and the players. It wasn’t that long ago they won the Irish Cup final. They will get it together sooner or later and when they do they’ll be a tough nut to crack.

I was sad to see Bobby Burns go off with a serious injury against Coleraine last weekend. I wish him well and a speedy recovery. I don’t think it was a malicious challenge by James McLaughlin. It was a genuine attempt to try and win the ball but it was mistimed and late. It certainly merited a red card for the Coleraine striker.

Glentoran boss Mick McDermott threatening to pen an intoxicating new  chapter in Oval club's history - Belfast Live
Acknowledgement: Belfast Live

Larne, like Linfield, have made an excellent start to the season. David McDaid has scored at least once in their three games played so far but their whole team have looked very solid across the pitch. I really like the role Fuad Sule (pictured) plays in the team and Ronan Hale continues to impress me since moving from Crusaders.

Fuad Sule commits future to Larne by signing new two-year deal - Belfast  Live
Acknowledgement: Belfast Live

These two sides will meet in the County Antrim Shield Final at the start of December after beating Cliftonville and Linfield respectively on Tuesday night so this will be a good dress rehearsal for the first major trophy on the Northern Irish Football calendar.

This is a tough game to call because I think Glentoran are due a good performance and a win. Larne haven’t got a good recent record at the Oval either and I think that will give the Glens some confidence and hope of a positive result.

Larne did win the most recent encounter between the two sides at Inver Park though and are the in form team right now.

With no real confidence, I’m going to back another entertaining score draw.

Stato’s Prediction: Glentoran 2-2 Larne

Game week 4 Player to Scout – Jamie Glackin (Coleraine)

Every Gameweek, I will preview one player from the Irish League who I feel you should go and check-out throughout the season.

This week I am picking a guy I really enjoy watching at Coleraine: Jamie Glackin (pictured).

My Top Ten: Jamie Glackin | Coleraine FC
Acknowledgement: Coleraine FC

Glackin joined the Bannsiders from Crusaders in 2019 having been signed by former Coleraine manager Rodney McAree, the man famous for guiding Dungannon Swifts to League Cup success back in 2018. Glackin has won a league title and is a County Antrim Shield winner with the Crues as well as last season helping guide Coleraine to League Cup success against his old team.

As Marshall Gillespie informs us, Glackin has scored 12 goals in his 63 matches played for Coleraine so far but has also popped up with 19 assists in his time at the club.

Last season, Glackin got 10 assists for Coleraine – only teammate Ben Doherty bettered that with 13.

These stats prove that Glackin is an important player for current manager Oran Kearney and he will no doubt be influential if the team from Ballycastle Road are going to win any silverware this season.

Useful Links and sources which you should check out:

NIFL Premiership Highlights Show:

The Score NI with Michael Clarke:

The Waffle – Irish League Podcast

That’s What I Call Football

Check out quality Irish League content from some of the Leagues top names:

Joel Taggart, Liam Beckett, Michael Clarke, Nicola McCarthy, Colin Hopkins, Steven Beacom, Mark McIntosh and find some of the characters I’ve interviewed so far by visiting the Campbell’s Footballs archive.

Published by Dr. Grant Campbell

My name is Grant and I am the host of "The only show where bad predictions are cancelled out by good craic": Campbell's Footballs. This podcast will host plenty of wild football predictions as well as interesting stories from a diverse range of guests from all life within football such as grassroots, media and journalism, ex-professionals and genuine football fans. Contributions, shout outs and conversations encouraged! In Association with music from Toby Johnson and Rory Hope.

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