Dundela became the first club to be relegated in senior football this season, on a day which saw the promotion race for the top flight become red hot.
The Duns 3-1 defeat at second-from-bottom PSNI condemned the East Belfast side to their fate, and having collected only two wins and ten points this season they can have few complaints.
It has been a staggering fall from grace for the Wilgar Park men, who led the division during the early stages of the previous season in a year which also saw them lift the Steel and Sons Cup, but a host of player exits has led to freefall on the pitch.
As the bottom two automatically are relegation to the third tier, the Newforge result could prove to be significant for the PSNI who moved nine points clear of the Duns and are only two off Donegal Celtic, who they have two games in hand over. Ballyclare could still feasibly go down, but David Dorrian’s side only need two points from their remaining two fixtures to confirm their status in the division.
Donegal Celtic thought they had secured a valuable points against promotion-chasing Ards, the match at Suffolk Road was locked at 1-1 going into injury time before striker Gary Warwick netted a late winner for Niall Currie’s side. That goal was crucial at both ends of the table, as Ards have moved top of the league on goal difference.
That came about as Bangor could only manage a draw at home to Larne, as the Seasiders slipped down into third position. Andy Hall’s second half leveller cancelled out Larne striker Paul Maguire’s opener, but they were unable to find a winner.
Carrick Rangers are now title favourites, and they strengthened their position with a 2-0 win at Ballyclare. Harmon gave the visitors a first half lead before a late own goal wrapped up the points that took Carrick into second. They are only behind Ards on goal difference, but have two matches in hand. Bangor are a point further back and have one game in hand over Ards.
Elsewhere in Championship 1, Armagh City secured an impressive 2-0 win at HW Welders with second-half goals from Hoey and Donnelly, while Knockbreda won 2-0 at Loughgall and Dergview secured a comfortable 3-1 win over Lisburn Distillery.
Lurgan Celtic returned to the top of Championship 2 today with an emphatic 3-0 win over Portstewart. The Hoops are now two points clear of Limavady United and have three games in hand too, and look nailed on for promotion to the second tier.
The Roesiders were the only side not in action today (due to the division having an odd number of sides this year) and Annagh moved to within a point of second place with a 5-1 thumping over Dollingstown, and the Mid Ulster side also have three games more to play.
Ballymoney’s status as an intermediate side is still hanging by a thread, a thrilling 3-3 draw with Banbridge Town had plenty of entertainment but United are still the only remaining NIFL side to register a league victory this campaign.
Second-from-bottom Coagh United also remain in deep trouble, a 1-1 draw at Wakehurst means they fail to close the 8-point gap between the two as Coagh look like they’ll face consecutive relegations.
Championship 1 results:
Ballyclare Comrades 0-2 Carrick Rangers (Harmon ’17, Getty OG ‘88)
Bangor 1-1 Larne (Hall ’61; Maguire ’42)
Dergview 3-1 Lisburn Distillery
Donegal Celtic 1-2 Ards (Smith ’39; Gage ’25, Warwick 90+2)
HW Welders 0-2 Armagh City (Hoey ’60, Donnelly ‘76)
Loughgall 0-2 Knockbreda
PSNI 3-1 Dundela
Championship 2 results:
Ballymoney United 3-3 Banbridge Town
Dollingstown 1-5 Annagh United
Lurgan Celtic 3-0 Portstewart
QUB 3-0 Glebe Rangers
S&L Swifts 1-0 Moyola Park
Tobermore 1-1 Newington
Wakehurst 1-1 Coagh United