24 Jan 2023
© David Maginnis/Pacemaker Press Niall McGinn displays the match ball after his hat-trick

It’s a title race that just keeps on giving – and Tuesday night’s fixtures proved to be no exception!

A full set of games produced victories for five out of the six protagonists on an evening that saw
Niall McGinn grab all the headlines after his 15-minute hat-trick helped Glentoran hit Dungannon Swifts for six at the BetMcLean Oval.

The Northern Ireland international opened the scoring midway through the first half with a finish into the bottom left corner. Shay McCartan added another just before the half-hour mark before two goals in as many minutes saw McGinn claim the match ball.

It got worse for the Swifts when Mayowa Animasahun deflected the ball into his own net to send the Glens in at the break five goals to the good. McCartan then doubled his tally for the evening to complete the scoring.

Across the city, at Seaview, Crusaders ran out 2-0 winners over Linfield in the only game that saw two of the top six lock horns.

Jordan Forsythe broke the deadlock as early as the sixth minute, a lead the Crues held until almost the hour when Philip Lowry marked his 250th appearance for the club with a second to make sure.

Leaders Cliftonville remain a point to the good at the top thanks to a 3-1 win away to Glenavon.

David Parkhouse edged the Reds in front from close range with around 14 minutes on the clock. That was how it stayed until Colin Coates made it 2-0 with a quarter-of-an-hour remaining before Matthew Fitzpatrick pulled one back on 89 minutes to set up a nervy finish. However, Ronan Hale struck in stoppage time to ensure the points travelled back to Belfast.

Larne needed a goal in each half to get past Portadown at Inver Park.

Cian Bolger opened the scoring on 20 minutes with a header from Lee Bonis’ pinpoint cross while Joe Thomson added a second in the 52nd minute into the top right corner from another Bonis ball.

Coleraine remain very much in the hunt but they had to settle for a Matthew Shevlin spot-kick on 70 minutes to claim the points from Carrick Rangers’ visit.

Meanwhile, Ballymena United hosted Newry City as the sides carved out a scoreless draw at the Showgrounds.