Glentoran FC denied arch-rivals Linfield FC a fourth consecutive League title by winning the championship on the final day of the campaign.
Leading by a point before the last round, the Glens knew a home win over Cliftonville FC would guarantee them a 23rd League success and they duly delivered with a 3-1 victory. Two goals inside the opening 20 minutes settled any nerves for the hosts at the Oval. Dean Fitzgerald opened the scoring after just five minutes and Kyle Neill added a second for Alan McDonald's men in the 17th minute. Mattie Burrows made absolutely sure of their title triumph with the third goal eight minutes from the end of normal time, before Rory Hamill scored a late consolation for the Reds against one of his former clubs.
Linfield cruised to a 5-0 win at Seaview against Crusaders FC, with goals from Paul Munster (2), Robert Garrett, Mark McAllister, and Michael Gault, but it was all in vain as they could not overtake Glentoran. Glentoran striker Michael Halliday was obviously happy that his team had held on to their pre-match advantage, commenting: "It was a role reversal; usually we're chasing them, but we got the win that we needed. It's a long time coming, good for the club, great for the fans. We pushed on from there and never really looked like losing the game." Manager McDonald added: "Our players held their nerve and showed what they are made of today. My job when I came here was to win the championship within two years and thankfully that's happened." Glentoran will enter next season's UEFA Champions League in the second qualifying round.
Meanwhile Portadown FC secured automatic promotion back to the top flight thanks to a 2-0 win in the second-tier title decider against Donegal Celtic FC. Portadown replace Bangor FC, who had announced earlier in the season that they would not compete in the Premier League next season. However, Donegal Celtic still have a chance to go up themselves, competing in a two-legged promotion/relegation play-off against Dungannon Swifts FC, who finished bottom of the Premier League. The first leg will take place at Donegal's Suffolk Road home on Tuesday evening.
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