Cliftonville lift Gibson Cup

Cliftonville lift Gibson Cup

Cliftonville secured a hard-fought victory over Ballinamallard on the final day of season as the Gibson Cup returned to the Reds for the first time since 1998.

Tommy Breslin's side had already sealed the title two weeks earlier, but despite being guaranteed the trophy at the final whistle, the Reds seemed determined to end the campaign with a flourish.

Cliftonville side took the lead in the 24th minute when Diarmuid O'Carroll latched on to a long ball forward and kept his composure to coolly chip the ball over visiting keeper Alvin Rouse.

Less than a minute later the hosts doubled their advantage when Ciaran Caldwell capitalised on a mix-up in the Mallards defence, before rounding rouse for the simplest of finishes.

The County Fermanagh side battled gamely throughout and had a number of opportunities before Ryan Campbell fired home in the 58th minute, but it was always going to be Cliftonville's day as Chris Scannell and George McMullan lifted the trophy at the final whistle.

The season is still not over for the Reds though - they face Belfast rivals Glentoran in the Irish Cup decider next weekend.

The Glens completed their league programme with a 1-1 draw against Coleraine, with the equalising goal coming courtesy of the departing Colin Nixon.

The veteran defender came on in the second half for his 793rd appearance in a career spanning 18 years, with the Glens already a goal down following a 20th minute strike from Stephen Lowry.

However Nixon struck with a superb volley in the 90th minute to steal a point for Eddie Patterson's side.

Across Belfast second-placed Crusaders completed their league campaign with a 2-1 victory over Linfield at Windsor Park.

It was an emotional day for Crusaders striker David Rainey and Blues defender William Murphy, both of whom were making their last appearances for their respective clubs.

Michael Carville grabbed the opening goal in the 13th minute, gliding past a defender before unleashing a shot from just outside the area.

Linfield failed to capitalise on a host of other chances though, and despite being on the back foot for most of the opening period Crusaders levelled on the stroke of half time when good work from Rainey and Eamonn McAllister allowed Gary McCutcheon to fire home.

Fittingly for the visitors, it was the departing Rainey who had the final say, as he found the net with a 50th minute free kick to earn his side the victory.

With Lisburn Distillery already relegated and Donegal Celtic destined for the promotion/relegation play-off, there was little to play for in the bottom half of the table, and it was little surprise that neither side managed to pick up points on the final day of the campaign.

Distillery limped out of the top flight after a 1-0 loss to Portadown at Shamrock Park, with Sean Mackle's delightful finish from a Ross Redman cross sealing the points for the hosts.

The Whites go down having managed to win on just four occasions in the league this season.

In the game at Mourneview Park Glenavon sealed ninth place in the league with a 3-1 victory over DC, whose Premiership future will now be decided in a two-legged play-off against either Institute or Warrenpoint Town.

The opening goal had a slice of good fortune about it, as Grant Gardiner's long-range effort took a wicked deflection en route to goal.

Matthew Rooney added a second for Glenavon when he finished from close range early in the second half but veteran Paul McVeigh, in his final appearance for DC, gave his side hope when he converted a penalty in the 65th minute.

However Rooney found the target again with a smart finish three minutes from time to seal the victory.

Finally Dungannon Swifts edged out Ballymena United at the Ballymena Showgrounds to end their season on a high.

PJ Lavery opened the scoring for the visitors in the 27th minute, but the lead lasted just 3 minutes as Johnny Taylor steered the ball home after the Swifts had failed to clear a Ballymena corner.

However a Ryan Devlin sealed the win for his side with a tap-in with just six minutes remaining.


Results in full:

Cliftonville 2 -1 Ballinamallard United

Linfield 1 -2 Crusaders

Glentoran 1 -1 Coleraine

Portadown 1 - 0 Lisburn Distillery

Glenavon 3 - 1 Donegal Celtic

Dungannon Swifts 1 - 2 Ballymena United.

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