At the end of the season, the champion club is presented with the Gibson Cup. The current Premiership format was introduced for the 2008–09 season after the League system for Northern Ireland was re-organised. The top flight was reduced in size from 16 to 12 clubs, included on the not only of their performance in the 2007–08 season. Finance – based on solvency, debt management and cash-flow projection, the Premiership remained under IFA control for five seasons until the creation of the Northern Ireland Football League in 2013, when it became the NIFL Premiership. Each team plays a total of 38 fixtures during the season, each team initially plays every other team three times for a total of 33 fixtures per team. The post-split fixtures are usually arranged in such a way as to result in the teams in each half playing each other twice at home and twice away. After the split, teams in the top six cannot finish lower than 6th place, the League campaign begins in August and continues until late April or early May. Most fixtures are played on Saturday afternoons, with fixtures on Friday evenings. Traditionally, there are Bank Holiday afternoon fixtures on Boxing Day, New Years Day, three points are awarded for a win, and one point for a draw. No points are awarded for a loss, points can be deducted for breaches of rules e. g. fielding an ineligible player. The teams are first and foremost ranked by number of points, the team with the most points at the end of the season wins the championship. A tiebreaker other than goal difference has not been required since the 1961–62 season, the league champions qualify for the following seasons UEFA Champions League, with the league runners-up and Irish Cup winners qualifying for the UEFA Europa League. If, however, the Irish Cup winners have qualified for Europe by finishing as champions or runners-up in the league. In order to compete in any of these European competitions, however, in the event that a team qualifies without such a licence, lower-placed teams may take their place. A new method of Europa League qualification was introduced for the 2015–16 season, the play-offs are seeded, with the two higher-placed qualifiers given home advantage when facing the two lower-placed qualifiers in the semi-finals. The two semi-final winners then meet in the final, if, however, the Irish Cup winners finish lower than seventh in the league, all five teams that finish in third to seventh will qualify for the play-offs. This will require an additional match to be played by the two lowest-placed qualifiers in sixth and seventh, with the winner joining the other three clubs in the semi-finals. Additionally, the two highest-placed teams in the Premiership also qualify automatically for the next seasons all-Ireland Setanta Cup, the third and fourth-placed teams may also qualify if either or both of the winners of the Irish Cup and League Cup have qualified via the League
Crusaders Football Club is a Northern Irish semi-professional football club, playing in the NIFL Premiership. The club, founded in 1898, hails from Belfast and plays its matches at Seaview. Club colours are red and black, the current manager is former player Stephen Baxter, who is the clubs longest serving manager, having been appointed in 2005. Crusaders played intermediate football until 1949, and during time they were one of the top non-league teams in the country. The withdrawal of Belfast Celtic from the ranks in 1949 resulted in Crusaders being elected in their place in time for the start of the 1949–50 season. The clubs fierce rivals are Cliftonville, matches between the two clubs are known as the North Belfast derby. Rivalries also exist with other Belfast sides such as Linfield and Glentoran, Crusaders Football Club was formed in the year 1898, with the exact date unknown. Many names were suggested for the club, including Rowan Star, Cultra United, Mervue Wanderers, Moyola, and others such as Queens Rovers, thomas Palmer felt that a name of more international significance should be adopted and he suggested Crusaders, after the medieval Christian knights. Initially the club was able to undertake friendly fixtures until it was admitted to one of the local junior leagues. Players were compelled to pay a fee of two pence before they could take the field. It was strictly no pay-no play, the very first competitive game of which there is any existing record was on 10 December 1898. It came in the North Belfast Alliance against opponents named Bedford at Alexandra Park and reports state that, in addition, the side were very successful in the top junior cup competition, the Steel & Sons Cup, winning the competition on seven occasions as a junior side. The side also reached the Irish Cup semi finals three times in the 1920s, the first came in the 1923–24 season, where they were defeated by that seasons Irish League champions Queens Island in a replay at Pirrie Park. In the 1924–25 season the Crues knocked out senior sides Larne and they reached the semi-finals once again in 1927, losing 2–4 at home to derby rivals Cliftonville. The Crues also reached the final of the Belfast Charities Cup in 1923, also an achievement as the competition was open to all senior clubs in Belfast. Despite these feats, all applications for entry to the senior Irish League were turned down, the frustration was such that consideration was given to making application either to the Scottish Football League or to the League of Ireland. The Second World War meant that there was no football played by the Crues between April 1941 and September 1945, Crusaders began competing once more in the Intermediate League after the war, beginning with the 1945–46 season. Morrison would also go on to be the top scorer of their first senior season with 11 goals in all competitions
Ballinamallard United F.C.
Ballinamallard United Football Club is a semi-professional Northern Irish football club playing in the NIFL Premiership, the top tier of Northern Irish football. Club colours are all blue, and all navy blue. During 2008–09 and the first part of 2009–10, the played at Holm Park. The clubs first match back at its own ground was on 5 December 2009 in its first ever major cup final against Portadown in the League Cup. In February 2011 the club reached its first ever Irish Cup quarter final when it defeated Lisburn Distillery 4–2 after a 6th Round replay at Ferney Park. On 31 March 2012, the club secured promotion to the top flight of Northern Irish football for the first time in their history, a 3–2 win over Bangor secured the 2011–12 IFA Championship 1 title, and promotion to the 2012–13 IFA Premiership. They became the first team from County Fermanagh to play senior football, in their first season in the Premiership the target was to avoid relegation. However, they surpassed all expectations, finishing 5th in the table and they also defeated reigning champions Linfield twice at Windsor Park, 3–1 in October 2012 and 1–0 in the post-split match in April 2013. In their second season 2013–14 they finished in 10th place, three points above Warrenpoint Town in the place after going unbeaten in their last 6 games of the season. No play-off was ultimately needed that season, in their third season 2014–15 they finished in 9th place,2 points above Dungannon Swifts in 10th and 9 points above Warrenpoint Town in the play-off place. The club also made history by reaching its first ever major cup final when it beat Glentoran in a penalty shootout in a Wasp Solutions League Cup quarter final at Ferney Park. The Mallards Irish Cup campaign was a disappointing one going out in the 5th Round on penalties to Coleraine after surrendering a two-goal lead in the second half and they reached the Quarter-Finals of the League Cup before being knocked out by eventual finalists Ards in another penalty shoot out. On 13 May 2016 it was announced legendary manager, Whitey Anderson, finn Harps assistant coach Gavin Dykes was appointed as his replacement. Players may hold more than one non-FIFA nationality, Irish Cup Irish League Cup NIFL Premiership NIFL Championship Northern Ireland football league system Official website Ballinamallard United Statistics and Results at the Irish Football Club Project
Carrick Rangers F.C.
Carrick Rangers Football Club is a semi-professional Northern Irish football club playing in NIFL Premiership. The club, founded in 1939, hails from Carrickfergus, County Antrim, the Gers ground is the only sponsored stadium in Northern Irish Premiership. Carrick Rangers main rivals are Larne, with matches between the sides being known as, The East Antrim Derby, the club was formed in 1939, when two teams from the Carrickfergus & District Summer League - Barn Mills and Bubbles decided to merge. As members of the Alliance, Carrick won the McKelvey Cup, from 1983 until 2003, the club enjoyed senior status, but reverted to intermediate status when the Irish Premier League was established and the number of senior clubs was reduced from 20 to 16. The clubs greatest achievement was winning the Irish Cup in 1976, on 2 May 2011, the club secured a return to top flight football for the first time since the 1994–95 season, after being crowned champions of Championship 1. On 25 April 2015, Carrick sealed promotion back to the Premiership as champions following a 1–0 win over Dundela, miguels goal coming in the 90+3 minute after an incredible acrobatic effort to keep the Gers up. Players may hold more than one non-FIFA nationality
Coleraine Football Club is a Northern Irish semi-professional football club, playing in the NIFL Premiership. The club, founded in 1927, hails from Coleraine, County Londonderry, Club colours are blue and white. The current manager is Oran Kearney of Linfield. The Bannsiders won the Irish League title once, the club was formed out of a merger between two local sides, Coleraine Olympic and Coleraine Alexandra. The original club colours were all white, hence the original nickname – the Lilywhites. The new club secured its first trophy in the 1931–32 season, in 1948, Coleraine reached its first Irish Cup final, going down 3–0 to Linfield. 1953 brought another appearance in the final and another defeat, again to Linfield, the 1950s saw the City Cup won for the first time and a second triumph in the Gold Cup. In 1961, chairman Jack Doherty persuaded Bertie Peacock to sign for Coleraine after he left Celtic and it would prove to be one of the most important transfers in the clubs history. In 1965, Coleraine won the Irish Cup for the first time, defeating Glenavon 2–1 at Windsor Park, with goals from Shaun Dunlop, Coleraine thus gained its first experience of European football, against Soviet outfit Dynamo Kiev. Coleraine also won the first two Blaxnit all-Ireland cups in 1969 and 1970, Coleraine faced Kilmarnock in the 1970 Fairs Cup, and after a 1–1 draw in the first leg, the Bannsiders pulled off an historic 3–2 victory thanks to a Des Dickson hat-trick. In 1972, the Irish Cup was won again, this time by beating Portadown 2–1, with goals from Des Dickson, the Holy Grail of the Gibson Cup was finally captured in 1974. Under the management of Bertie Peacock, the squad consisting of the likes of Des Dickson, Johnny McCurdy, Ivan Murray, Michael Guy, Bertie Peacock resigned in 1974 and Ivan Murray and Johnny McCurdy took over the reins. Murray continued as manager until 1978 and during his spell in charge the Irish Cup was won twice more – both times against Linfield, in 1975, it took three games before a goal from Jim Chang Smith in the second replay proved decisive. The 1977 victory was more emphatic with Liam Beckett, Des Dickson, Frankie Moffatt and it was to be the clubs last major trophy for 26 years. In the 1980s there were two cup finals, in 1982 and 1986, ending in defeats to Linfield and Glentoran respectively. For three seasons in a row in the mid-1980s the club finished second in the league behind Linfield, in 1995 they dropped into the First Division. The next 2 seasons saw Coleraine finish fourth both times – potential title challenges being ruined by inconsistency, in 2002–03, Coleraine ended the season in third place and reached their first Irish Cup Final since 1986. In the final, they faced Glentoran as massive underdogs as the east Belfast side were looking to complete a sweep of trophies. After an early strike from Gareth McAuley was harshly ruled out, Coleraine kept going, despite increasing Glentoran pressure, Coleraine held on and the trophy famine was over
Glenavon Football Club is a semi-professional, Northern Irish football club playing in the NIFL Premiership. The club, founded in 1889, hails from Lurgan and plays its matches at Mourneview Park. Club colours are blue and white, Gary Hamilton has been player-manager of the Lurgan Blues since December 2011 following the resignation of Marty Quinn. Their matches are known as the Mid-Ulster Derby and Glenavons current player-manager Gary Hamilton played for Portadown before joining the Lurgan Blues, mcBrides reign lasted seven months before he was relieved of his managerial duties with Glenavon at the bottom of the IFA Premiership. The Director of Football, Alan Fraser, was relieved from his duties. The club chairman is Adrian Teer, Glenavon was the first provincial club to win the Irish League title and also the first provincial club to do the league and cup double. The latter triumph made them the first Northern Irish team to enter the European Cup. Glenavon has had a number of talented and famous players, none more so than Wilbur Cush and Jimmy Jones, the club then suffered a relatively poor spell during the early 2000s, which culminated in relegation to the second tier in the 2003–04 Irish League season. This was followed up by a 9th-place finish in the 2012–13 season, following on from this cup triumph was a successful 2014–15 season. Even more success was to follow, as the club claimed a 2nd Irish Cup win in three years, defeating David Healys Linfield 2–0 in the final, Glenavon was the first Northern Irish team to enter the European Cup. In their first tie they drew AGF of Denmark, drawing 0–0 at home, Glenavon achieved some more notable results in Europe in the 1990s. In the 1992–93 season, they drew both legs of their Cup Winners Cup tie with Royal Antwerp and lost on penalties, in 1995–96 they reached the first round proper of the UEFA Cup, and were beaten by Werder Bremen. Mourneview Park is now considered to be one of the best grounds in the Irish League, along the side of the pitch runs the Geddis Stand and on the other side the newly built Glenfield Road Stand. One end of the ground has the Crescent Stand, and at the end the Hospital End remains undeveloped. In addition to Glenavons home matches, the stadium is also a regular host for Northern Ireland under-21 matches, due to ongoing renovation of Windsor Park, Mourneview Park was chosen as the venue for Linfields home ties in the 2014–15 UEFA Europa League. Players may hold more than one non-FIFA nationality, Glenavon FCs Academy consists of teams at Under 7, Under 8, Under 9, Under 10, Under 11, Under 12, Under 13, Under 14, Under 15 and Under 16. There is also an Under 19 team which comes under the auspices of the Senior Club, gordons first task was to bring ex Glenavon legend Stephen McBride back to the club as the Academy head coach. The Glenavon FC Academy is now headed by Ryan Prentice, the Academy currently has three UEFA A Licence and two UEFA B Licence coaches
Cliftonville Football & Athletic Club is a Northern Irish semi-professional association football club playing in the NIFL Premiership. Founded on 20 September 1879 by John McCredy McAlery in the suburb of Cliftonville in north Belfast, it is the oldest football club in Ireland, since 1890, the club has played at Solitude. Cliftonville contests the North Belfast derby with nearest rivals Crusaders, and also has rivalries with Belfasts Big Two clubs, Glentoran. The club has won the Irish League championship four times outright and once shared, the Irish Cup eight times, the newly formed club, however, was beaten 2–1. In its first match against the Scottish club Caledonians, it fared worse, in 1880, it was again John McAlery who was the moving spirit in the formation of the Irish Football Association. He issued an invitation to interested parties in Belfast and district for a meeting to be called, the first meeting took place on 18 November 1880 at Queens Hotel, Belfast, presided over by John Sinclair, from which the Irish Football Association was formed. While Major Chichester was appointed president, McAlery became the secretary of the association. This meeting also paved the way for the Irish Cup, the first Irish Cup final, played at Cliftonville on 9 April 1881, saw a 1–0 defeat against Moyola Park, an opponent that was well known for rough and brutal play. In the following year Cliftonville lost again in the Irish Cup final, in 1883 Cliftonville won the cup for the first time with a 5–0 win over Ulster. During the 1880s Cliftonville also played in the English FA Cup, competing in the competition proper in 1886–87, in 1886–87 they finally lost in the third round 11–0 at home to Partick Thistle after beating Blackburn Park Road 7–2 in an earlier round. In 1887–88 they scratched their match with Church, the match lost to Linfield 7–0 in 1888 is the only FA Cup match to be played on Christmas Day. The inaugural meeting of the Irish Football League was held on 14 March 1890 in the Belfast Estate Office of the Marquess of Dufferin, eight clubs agreed to participate, Cliftonville, Clarence, Milford, Oldpark, Distillery, Glentoran, Ulster and Linfield. In the 1905–06 season Cliftonville won the League for the first time, in 1891 Cliftonville became the first Irish football club to use floodlights at games. Kick-off in each case was at 8 pm with lights suspended across the pitch and these were dismantled later with the announcement that spectators found it difficult to follow the action and that the player seemed to have all the fun in the middle. It had been an experience, but not a highly successful one with the public skeptical. In 1897 Cliftonville won the Irish Cup after a 3–1 win over Sherwood Foresters, a quite unusual protest was launched by Cliftonville after being beaten by Belfast Celtic in the 1900 Irish Cup competition. The Celtic goalposts were eventually measured and it was out that they were much too short. A replay took place, in which Cliftonville reversed the 4–0 defeat in the earlier match, subsequently they won the Cup that year, after beating Bohemians 2–1 in the Final