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Larne crowned NIFL Championship winners with five games to spare

Sat, Mar 09 2019

Credit: NIFL

Larne have been promoted back to the top tier of Northern Irish football following an 11-year absence as they sealed the NIFL Championship title with five games to spare.

The County Antrim club sealed the title thanks to a 3-0 win over Ballinamallard United which took them 20 points clear of second-placed Carrick Rangers.

Carrick needed to take all three points in their game with third-placed Portadown and hope that Larne were beaten at home by the Mallards.

That never looked likely, however, as goals from Martin Donnelly, Davy McDaid and Ben Tilney ensured Larne had the game – and the championship – wrapped up before the break.

Donnelly opened the scoring after 17 minutes when he was played in on goal by McDaid, moving him one ahead of McDaid in the goalscoring ranks with 22.

McDaid wasn’t long in tying things up, however, as he tapped home from close range, before Tilney applied the simple finish for number three a minute before half-time.

Larne have invested heavily in recent seasons in pursuit of top-flight football, with several former League of Ireland players like Fuad Sule, McDaid and Shane McEleney persuaded to drop down.

They will now return to the top flight for the first time since they declined to apply for admission to the restructured NIFL Premiership in 2008.