2014–15 NIFL Premiership

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NIFL Premiership
Season 2014–15
Champions Crusaders
5th Irish title
Relegated Institute
Champions League Crusaders
Europa League Linfield
Glenavon
Glentoran
Matches played 228
Goals scored 719 (3.15 per match)
Top goalscorer Joe Gormley (31 goals)
Biggest home win Cliftonville 7–0
Ballymena United
(29 November 2014)
Warrenpoint Town 7–0 Ballinamallard United
(23 January 2015)
Biggest away win Warrenpoint Town 0–5
Glentoran
(3 January 2015)
Warrenpoint Town 0–5
Coleraine
(14 March 2015)
Highest scoring Portadown 5–5
Ballymena United
(17 January 2015)
Glenavon 3–7 Crusaders
(21 February 2015)
Highest attendance 6,538[1]
Linfield 2–1 Glentoran
(26 December 2014)
Lowest attendance 70[1]
Warrenpoint Town 5–1
Institute
(4 April 2015)
Total attendance 214,547[1]
Average attendance 941[1]

The 2014–15 NIFL Premiership (known as the Danske Bank Premiership for sponsorship reasons) was the seventh season of Northern Ireland's highest national football league in this format since its inception in 2008, the 114th season of Irish league football overall, and the second season of the league as part of the Northern Ireland Football League.[2] The season began on 9 August 2014, and concluded with the final round of fixtures on 25 April 2015.

Cliftonville were the defending champions, after they won a second consecutive title the previous season for the first time in the club's history - their fourth outright league title and fifth overall.[3] Ten years after suffering relegation to the second tier in 2004–05 and just eight years after their return to the top flight in 2006–07, Crusaders were this season's champions. They lifted the title for the fifth time overall on 18 April 2015 – their first top flight title in the 18 years since their last win in the 1996–97 season.[4]

Institute were relegated back to Championship 1 after only one season in the top flight. This was confirmed after they lost 2–1 against Ballymena United on 11 April 2015, leaving them bottom of the table by nine points with only two fixtures remaining.[5] Warrenpoint Town finished in 11th place – the Promotion/relegation play-off place – and faced Bangor from Championship 1 for a place in next season's Premiership.[6] After a 2–2 draw on aggregate, Warrenpoint Town won 3–1 on penalties and retained their Premiership status for next season.[7]

Teams[edit]

In their first season back in the top flight since 2005–06, Ards finished bottom of the table the previous season. This was confirmed on 12 April 2014, after Warrenpoint Town defeated Dungannon Swifts 4–0 to leave Ards 10 points adrift in 12th place with only three fixtures remaining.[8] Subsequently, Ards were relegated to Championship 1. Institute replaced them in the Premiership, after securing the 2013–14 Championship 1 title. Institute returned to the top flight for the first time in four years since they were relegated in the 2009–10 season.

The Promotion/relegation play-off was not played the previous season because the runners-up of Championship 1, Bangor, were ineligible for promotion as they did not possess a licence to participate in top-flight football. As a result, this gave a reprieve to the previous season's 11th-placed team, Warrenpoint Town, who retained their Premiership status by default.[9]

Stadia and locations[edit]

Club Stadium Location Capacity[10][11]
Ballinamallard United Ferney Park Ballinamallard 2,000 (250 seated)
Ballymena United The Showgrounds Ballymena 3,050 (2,200 seated)
Cliftonville Solitude Belfast 2,530 (all seated)
Coleraine The Showgrounds Coleraine 2,496 (1,106 seated)
Crusaders Seaview Belfast 3,383 (all seated)
Dungannon Swifts Stangmore Park Dungannon 5,000 (300 seated)
Glenavon Mourneview Park Lurgan 4,160 (4,000 seated)
Glentoran The Oval Belfast 6,054 (4,989 seated)
Institute Riverside Stadium Drumahoe 3,110 (1,540 seated)
Linfield Windsor Park Belfast 10,500 (all seated)
Portadown Shamrock Park Portadown 3,940 (2,765 seated)
Warrenpoint Town Milltown Warrenpoint 2,000 (250 seated)
Location of the Belfast-based teams in the 2014–15 NIFL Premiership

Windsor Park redevelopment[edit]

As a result of Windsor Park being redeveloped, its capacity was limited to approximately 10,500. This was still more than large enough to accommodate the average Premiership attendance at the stadium. Linfield were forced to play their first six league games of the season away from home while a new playing surface was laid at the stadium. Linfield's first home league game of the season was on 13 September 2014 against Warrenpoint Town, which resulted in a 1–0 home win.[12] On 31 March 2015, the West Stand of the stadium was sealed off after cracks in the structure were discovered. Construction work related to the stadium redevelopment had been ongoing behind the stand in the weeks prior to the damage, but it was not known if that was directly related.[13] The closure of the stand ultimately forced Linfield to play their remaining two home games of the season against Glenavon and Crusaders at the Ballymena Showgrounds and the Oval respectively.

League table[edit]

Pos Team Pld W D L GF GA GD Pts Qualification or relegation
1 Crusaders (C) 38 25 7 6 93 43 +50 82 Qualification to Champions League first qualifying round
2 Linfield 38 21 9 8 67 46 +21 72 Qualification to Europa League first qualifying round
3 Glenavon 38 20 6 12 82 65 +17 66
4 Portadown 38 17 11 10 65 56 +9 62
5 Cliftonville 38 16 13 9 71 47 +24 61
6 Glentoran 38 16 10 12 67 51 +16 58 Qualification to Europa League first qualifying round[a]
7 Ballymena United 38 15 6 17 62 75 −13 51
8 Coleraine 38 13 7 18 48 55 −7 46[b]
9 Ballinamallard United 38 10 9 19 40 71 −31 39
10 Dungannon Swifts 38 8 13 17 38 56 −18 37
11 Warrenpoint Town (O) 38 6 12 20 50 76 −26 30 Qualification to Promotion/relegation play-off
12 Institute (R) 38 4 9 25 36 84 −48 21[b] Relegation to NIFL Championship 1
Source: rsssf.com
Rules for classification: 1) Points; 2) Goal difference; 3) Number of goals scored; 4) Head-to-head points; 5) Head-to-head goal difference
(C) Champion; (O) Play-off winner; (R) Relegated.
Notes:
  1. ^ Glentoran qualified for the Europa League first qualifying round as 2014–15 Irish Cup winners.
  2. ^ a b Coleraine and Institute both fielded an ineligible player in the same match. The original 4–0 Coleraine win was voided with a 3–0 loss being recorded for both clubs, resulting in the final league table having two more losses than wins, and an overall goal difference of –6.[14][15]

Results[edit]

Matches 34–38[edit]

During matches 34–38 each team played every other team in their half of the table once. As this was the fourth time that teams had played each other this season, home sides were chosen so that they had played each other twice at home and twice away.

Promotion/relegation play-off[edit]

11th-placed Warrenpoint Town played NIFL Championship 1 runners-up Bangor over two legs for a place in next season's Premiership. Warrenpoint Town played the first leg away from home, with home advantage for the second leg. Warrenpoint Town won 3–1 on penalties and retained their Premiership status.[7]

28 April 2015
19:45 BST
Bangor 2–0 Warrenpoint Town
Moan Goal 29' (o.g.)
McDowell Goal 90+2'
Report
Clandeboye Park, Bangor
Referee: Ian McNabb

1 May 2015
19:45 BST
Warrenpoint Town 2–0 (a.e.t.) Bangor
McDonald Goal 12'
McVeigh Goal 76'
Report
  Penalties  
McGuigan Penalty scored
McDonnell Penalty missed
M. Hughes Penalty missed
McVeigh Penalty scored
S. Hughes Penalty scored
3–1 Cooling Penalty missed
McDowell Penalty scored
Gardiner Penalty missed
Hall Penalty missed
Milltown, Warrenpoint

2–2 on aggregate after extra time. Warrenpoint Town won 3–1 on penalties.

Season statistics[edit]

Top goalscorers[edit]

Rank Scorer Club Goals[16]
1 Northern Ireland Joe Gormley Cliftonville 31
2 Northern Ireland Paul Heatley Crusaders 27
3 Northern Ireland Jordan Owens Crusaders 26
4 Northern Ireland Aaron Burns Linfield 17
Northern Ireland Daniel Hughes Warrenpoint Town 17
6 Northern Ireland Curtis Allen Glentoran 15
Northern Ireland Kevin Braniff Glenavon 15
Northern Ireland Andrew Waterworth Linfield 15
9 Northern Ireland Eoin Bradley Glenavon 13
Northern Ireland Darren Murray Portadown 13
Northern Ireland Jordan Stewart Glentoran 13
Scotland Gary Twigg Portadown 13

NIFL Premiership clubs in Europe 2014–15[edit]

UEFA coefficient and ranking[edit]

For the 2014–15 UEFA competitions, the associations were allocated places according to their 2013 UEFA country coefficients, which took into account their performance in European competitions from 2008–09 to 2012–13. In the 2013 rankings used for the 2014–15 European competitions, Northern Ireland's coefficient points total was 3.083. After earning a score of 1.000 during the 2012–13 European campaign, Northern Ireland was ranked by UEFA as the 47th best association in Europe out of 54 - up one place from 48th the previous season.

UEFA Champions League[edit]

After winning the league last season, Cliftonville were the sole representatives in the 2014–15 UEFA Champions League. They entered in the second qualifying round, and were drawn to face Debrecen from Hungary. In the first leg at home, they held their full-time opponents to a 0–0 draw. In the away leg they held out until the second half, but in the end conceded twice to go out of the competition 2–0 on aggregate.

First Leg[edit]

15 July 2014
19:45 BST
Cliftonville Northern Ireland 0 – 0 Hungary Debrecen
Report
Solitude, Belfast
Attendance: 1,750
Referee: Artur Soares Dias (Portugal)

Second Leg[edit]

22 July 2014
19:30 BST
Debrecen Hungary 2 – 0 Northern Ireland Cliftonville
Mihelič Goal 55'
Sidibe Goal 79'
Report
Nagyerdei Stadion, Debrecen
Attendance: 9,457
Referee: Vlado Glodjović (Serbia)

Debrecen won 2–0 on aggregate.

UEFA Europa League[edit]

2013–14 League runners-up Linfield, third-placed Crusaders, and the Irish Cup winners Glenavon earned a place in the UEFA Europa League. They all entered the draw in the first qualifying round. Linfield were paired against B36 Tórshavn from the Faroe Islands, the same team they had defeated on penalties in the 2012–13 UEFA Champions League first qualifying round. They came away with a 2–1 victory in the first leg away from home – their third consecutive away win in Europe. Crusaders faced Ekranas from Lithuania and secured a 3–1 win in the first leg at home. Irish Cup holders Glenavon faced FH from Iceland. They lost the first leg 3–0 away from home, having held out at 0–0 until the 82nd minute.

Linfield played their home leg at Glenavon's Mourneview Park as a result of the redevelopment of Windsor Park. They secured a 1–1 draw to go through to the next round for the second successive season – 3–2 on aggregate. Crusaders also made it through to the next round, after a 2–1 away win in their second leg against Ekranas. This was Crusaders' first ever away win in Europe, and the first time they had won both legs of a European tie. Glenavon restored some pride in their second leg, scoring two goals. However, they lost the match 3–2 and exited the competition 6–2 on aggregate.

First qualifying round[edit]

First Legs

3 July 2014
19:00 BST
B36 Tórshavn Faroe Islands 1 – 2 Northern Ireland Linfield
Lawal Goal 72' Report Mulgrew Goal 38'
Carvill Goal 88'
Tórsvøllur, Tórshavn
Attendance: 786
Referee: Nikola Popov (Bulgaria)

3 July 2014
19:45 BST
Crusaders Northern Ireland 3 – 1 Lithuania Ekranas
Cockcroft Goal 23'
Owens Goal 43'
Coates Goal 58'
Report Šušnjar Goal 88'
Seaview, Belfast
Attendance: 998
Referee: Javier Estrada Fernández (Spain)

3 July 2014
20:15 BST
FH Iceland 3 – 0 Northern Ireland Glenavon
I. Óskarsson Goal 82'
Guðnason Goal 90'90+3'
Report
Kaplakriki, Hafnarfjörður
Attendance: 643
Referee: Zbynek Proske (Czech Republic)

Second Legs

8 July 2014
19:45 BST
Linfield Northern Ireland 1 – 1 Faroe Islands B36 Tórshavn
Carvill Goal 17' Report Lawal Goal 48' (pen.)
Mourneview Park, Lurgan
Attendance: 1,150
Referee: Thoroddur Hjaltalin (Iceland)

Linfield won 3–2 on aggregate.


10 July 2014
16:30 BST
Ekranas Lithuania 1 – 2 Northern Ireland Crusaders
Kochanauskas Goal 60' Report Heatley Goal 56'71'
Aukštaitijos stadionas, Panevėžys
Attendance: 1,400
Referee: Yaroslav Kozyk (Ukraine)

Crusaders won 5–2 on aggregate.


10 July 2014
19:45 BST
Glenavon Northern Ireland 2 – 3 Iceland FH
Braniff Goal 58'
Bradley Goal 60'
Report I. Óskarsson Goal 3'
Emilsson Goal 37'69' (pen.)
Mourneview Park, Lurgan
Attendance: 1,634
Referee: Sascha Amhof (Switzerland)

FH won 6–2 on aggregate.

Second qualifying round[edit]

First legs

17 July 2014
18:00 BST
Brommapojkarna Sweden 4 – 0 Northern Ireland Crusaders
Rexhepi Goal 9'
Albornoz Goal 27'
Larsson Goal 62'
Bärkroth Goal 65' (pen.)
Report
Tele2 Arena, Stockholm
Attendance: 524
Referee: Christos Nicolaides (Cyprus)

17 July 2014
19:45 BST
Linfield Northern Ireland 1 – 0 Sweden AIK
Waterworth Goal 87' Report
Mourneview Park, Lurgan
Attendance: 1,741
Referee: Rene Eisner (Austria)

Second legs

24 July 2014
18:00 BST
AIK Sweden 2 – 0 Northern Ireland Linfield
Igboananike Goal 55'
Goitom Goal 72'
Report
Friends Arena, Solna
Attendance: 9,570
Referee: Fredy Fautrel (France)

AIK won 2–1 on aggregate.


24 July 2014
19:45 BST
Crusaders Northern Ireland 1 – 1 Sweden Brommapojkarna
Coates Goal 17' Report Rexhepi Goal 27'
Seaview, Belfast
Attendance: 798
Referee: Alain Bieri (Switzerland)

Brommapojkarna won 5–1 on aggregate.

References[edit]

  1. ^ a b c d "Irish League Supporters Forum – Attendances". Irish League Supporters Forum. Retrieved 14 August 2014. 
  2. ^ "NORTHERN IRELAND FOOTBALL LEAGUE". NIFL Premiership. 
  3. ^ "Cliftonville retain Irish Premiership title for first time". BBC Sport (BBC). 22 April 2014. Retrieved 22 April 2014. 
  4. ^ "Irish Premiership: Crusaders 2-0 Glentoran". BBC Sport (BBC). 18 April 2015. Retrieved 18 April 2015. 
  5. ^ "Irish Premiership: Institute 1-2 Ballymena Utd". BBC Sport (BBC). 11 April 2015. Retrieved 11 April 2015. 
  6. ^ "Irish Premiership: Dungannon Swifts 1-1 Warrenpoint Town". BBC Sport (BBC). 11 April 2015. Retrieved 11 April 2015. 
  7. ^ a b "Premiership play-off: Warrenpoint beat Bangor on penalties". BBC Sport (BBC). 1 May 2015. Retrieved 1 May 2015. 
  8. ^ "Irish Premiership: Dungannon Swifts 0-4 Warrenpoint Town". BBC Sport (BBC). 12 April 2014. Retrieved 16 April 2014. 
  9. ^ "Ards relegated as Bangor draw gifts promotion to Institute". BBC Sport (BBC). 26 April 2014. Retrieved 26 April 2014. 
  10. ^ "AQW 1178/11". niassembly.gov.uk. 18 October 2010. Retrieved 21 December 2011. 
  11. ^ "Sport NI Annual review 2008/09" (PDF). sportni.net. p. 18. Retrieved 14 May 2013. 
  12. ^ "Irish Premiership: Linfield 1-0 Warrenpoint Town". BBC Sport (BBC). 13 September 2014. Retrieved 14 September 2014. 
  13. ^ "Windsor Park: Safety fears over West Stand after cracks spotted". BBC Sport (BBC). 31 March 2015. Retrieved 22 April 2015. 
  14. ^ "Coleraine deducted three points in Ruairi Harkin case". BBC Sport. 28 November 2014. Retrieved 24 May 2015. 
  15. ^ "Coleraine lose appeal over deduction of points in Harkin case". BBC Sport. 7 January 2015. Retrieved 24 May 2015. 
  16. ^ "FIFA.com - Danske Bank Premiership 2014/2015 Top Scorers". Retrieved 8 September 2014.