Carrick Rangers have secured promotion to the Irish Premiership after a three-year absence following today’s 1-0 win over Dundela at Taylor’s Avenue.
An early strike from skipper Aaron Harmon was enough for Carrick to seal the win they needed to ensure automatic promotion, along with the Championship One title.
It was an afternoon wrought with nerves for the hosts who could never find the decisive second goal against opponents who had already been relegated to the third tier.
Manager Gary Haveron had technically been downgraded due to a coaching badge technicality, but he is expected to return to his official position ahead of the club’s first season back in the top flight.
Haveron’s side ended the 26-match campaign two points ahead of runners-up Bangor who beat Lisburn Distillery 3-0 to guarantee a play-off against Warrenpoint Town. Barry Gray’s side finished second from bottom in the Premiership and they will now contest a two-legged play-off with the Seasiders next week to determine the final place in next season’s top flight.
Ards had harboured outside hopes of overleaping Bangor into second spot today, but that never looked like materialising and Niall Currie’s men will compete in Championship 1 again next year after a 1-1 draw against Ballyclare Comrades.
Meanwhile, PSNI have been relegated to Championship 2 as they could only manage a 1-1 draw at Larne, which coupled with Donegal Celtic’s 3-0 win a Loughgall ensured Jamesy Kirk’s side went straight back down to the third tier.
Ards 1-1 Ballyclare Comrades (O’Neill ’40; Doyle ‘71)
Armagh City 2-0 Knockbreda (Hoey ’51, Donnelly ’55)
Carrick Rangers 1-0 Dundela (Harmon ’11)
Dergview 1-2 HW Welders
Larne 1-1 PSNI (Maguire ’77; Berry ;63)
Lisburn Distillery 0-3 Bangor (Youle ’18, Hall ’50, Forsythe ‘54)
Loughgall 0-3 Donegal Celtic
Champions and automatically promoted: Carrick Rangers
Promotion/relegation play-off: Bangor v Warrenpoint Town
Relegated: PSNI, Dundela