Women's Premiership: Glentoran clinch first title since 2014 with 2-0 win over Crusaders

Glentoran Ladies
Sam Kelly's ninth-minute strike gave Glentoran a crucial early lead

Glentoran clinched their first Women's Premiership title in six years courtesy of a 2-0 win over Crusaders Strikers at a wet and windy Seaview.

Sam Kelly's ninth-minute goal sent the east Belfast side on their way to securing top spot with a game to spare.

The victory was sealed in the final minute of injury-time courtesy of Sarah Connolly's late strike.

The result means Linfield Ladies cannot claim their fifth straight title despite the Blues' win over Derry City.

Glentoran will conclude their season against Sion Swifts, who beat Cliftonville 3-1 on Wednesday.

Needing only to avoid defeat in order to claim their first league crown since 2014, Glentoran dominated the game in north Belfast amid tricky conditions.

Fresh from helping Northern Ireland secure a Euro 2022 play-off, Kelly's early strike proved to be the difference maker in a game of few clear-cut chances.

Kelly placed her left-footed effort into the corner from Kerry Beattie's lay-off to score the nerve-settler manager Billy Clarke would have hoped for.

Glentoran's title, their first since 2014, ensures rivals Linfield cannot lift their fifth successive league trophy

Glens keeper Jackie Burns remained untroubled throughout the contest and in truth their margin of victory could have been greater were it not for a number of smart saves by Maddy Harvey-Clifford.

Having kept out Beattie from point-blank range after three minutes, Harvey-Clifford was on hand again to stop the forward from doubling Glentoran's advantage midway through the half.

With rain teeming down, both sides struggled to keep the ball for long spells of the second half on a skiddy pitch although Kelly twice went close to finding her second goal, one effort fizzing over the top and another kept out by the impressive Harvey-Clifford.

The champagne moment came in the final minute of the match, with Connolly clipping the ball beautifully into the far corner from outside the box to secure the points that pushed Glentoran over the line.

Wins for Blues and Swifts

While the result at Seaview put the title race to bed, Linfield did end their campaign with a convincing 4-0 win over Derry City.

Casey Howe, Abbie Magee, Alison Smyth and Rebecca Bassett were on the scoresheet for the Blues, as they secured second place in the table.

Sion Swifts took third place, leapfrogging Crusaders courtesy of a Kirsty McGuinness-inspired win at home to Cliftonville.

Teegan Lynch and Clare Carson goals saw the sides level at 1-1 before a McGuinness double helped Sion jump into third, ending a three-game losing streak.

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