The Bluefin Sport Premier Intermediate League kicks off this weekend (c) Presseye
Friday, 17 August 2018
The limelight turns to the Bluefin Sport Premier Intermediate League which kicks off this Saturday with twelve teams starting their journey in the quest for promotion to senior football!
Banbridge Town v Lisburn Distillery (venue: Crystal Park; kick-off: 3pm)
Two of last season’s top six teams meet in the opening weekend of the Bluefin Sport Premier Intermediate League and both teams have already kicked off their campaigns in the cup competitions. Stuart King’s reign as Banbridge Town boss started two weeks ago with a narrow defeat to Championship side PSNI in the BetMcLean League Cup first round, Dylan Wilson’s solitary goal the difference between the sides.
For Colin McIlwaine’s Whites, it’s been two wins from two going into the league campaign – firstly defeating third-tier rivals Queens University in the League Cup first round and following that up with a 2-0 victory against Crumlin United in the Steel and Sons Cup last weekend thanks to goals from Matthew Ferguson and captain Aaron Harris.
Lurgan Celtic v Queens University (venue: Knockramer Park; kick-off: 3pm)
In arguably the game of the opening weekend - former Northern Ireland international Gerard McMahon enjoyed a fine start to life at the club with a 4-0 League Cup win over neighbours Armagh City two weeks ago and will be keen to start their Premier Intermediate League season in similar style with the aim of bouncing back to the Championship at the first attempt, following last season’s relegation.
Though it will be arguably the toughest start for McMahon, as Peter Thompson’s Queens University are the visitors to Knockramer Park on Saturday. The Students finished second last season and narrowly missed out on promotion after defeat in the play-offs to Dergview back in May. Queens started the season with an early League Cup exit to Lisburn Distillery two weeks ago.
Newington YC v Moyola Park (venue: Solitude; kick-off: 3pm)
Last season’s Steel and Sons Cup winners, Newington YC, start the season at their new home of Solitude, having made the switch from Seaview to Cliftonville’s home ground during the summer. Looking to improve on an indifferent second half of last season, they will be boosted by the arrival of Gavin Taggart (from Carrick Rangers) and Kevin Bradley (from Larne) amongst a host of new faces for the North Belfast club.
Visiting Moyola Park will also have a number of new faces on display as Kyle Beggs (Harrow Borough), Joe Morgan (Ballymoney United), Eoghan Quigg (Portstewart) and Mark Kelly (Dungannon Swifts) have arrived with David Paul (Wakehurst) and Ryan Young (Galgorm Blues) amongst the major departures for Mervyn Pattinson’s Castledawson outfit.
Portstewart v Dollingstown (venue: Seahaven; kick-off: 3pm)
Newly promoted Dollingstown start their return back into the NI Football League with a trip to the North Coast to face Portstewart. Portstewart have appointed former Coleraine Reserves manager Johnny Law to lead the club.
Dollingstown return for their first match in the NI Football League after a two year absence, they were promoted as winners of the Mid-Ulster Intermediate League automatically in place of the relegated Donegal Celtic, after Glebe Rangers withdrew from the promotion playoff.
Sport & Leisure Swifts v Armagh City (venue: Glen Road Heights; kick-off: 3pm)
Sport and Leisure Swifts kick off their Bluefin Sport Premier Intermediate League side at their West Belfast home on Saturday against Armagh City and manager Pat McAllister will welcome the experienced defender Brendan Shannon into his squad for his debut.
Despite the renewed optimism following a busy summer on and off the pitch for the Swifts, it was the polar opposite for the Eagles from Armagh City – as they will look to go again following a 4-0 defeat in the BetMcLean League Cup to Lurgan Celtic.
Tobermore United v Annagh United (venue: Fortwilliam Park; kick-off: 3pm)
Last season Tobermore United enjoyed a top half finish in the Premier Intermediate League under Adrian Whiteside, they will be aiming for a similar campaign this time around, starting with the visit of Ciaran McGurgan's Annagh United side on Saturday.
The Portadown based side have been busy in pre-season securing the services of experienced campaigners such as Neal Gawley and Niall Henderson, whilst former Linfield and Ballymena United midfielder Michael Gault has been named club captain.