Cliftonville playrs celbrating two weeks ago when they won the Irish League

Cliftonville playrs celbrating two weeks ago when they won the Irish League

IT will be a day of mixed emotions at Windsor Park and Solitude on Saturday.

Cliftonville will finally get their hands on the Gibson Cup in front of their home fans after winning the league for the first time in 15 years.

There is expected to be jubilant and emotional scenes at the end of the game against Ballinamallard as the team parade the cup around the packed north Belfast crowd.

But across Belfast in the south of the city, there will be different emotions as Linfield legend William ‘Winky’ Murphy plays his last game in a blues shirt.

He is expected to get a standing ovation from the home supporters after playing 16 years for the club.

The 39-year-old will make his last – and 639th – appearance for the Blues in Saturday’s match against Crusaders.

Murphy joined Linfield from Ards in September 1997 and went on to win a string of honours with the club.

Earlier this week it was revealed that promising central defender Mark Haughey is to join Linfield from Glenavon.

“I am a realist. I cannot go on for ever and all good things must come to an end,” Murphy told the club’s website.

“Linfield must continually strive to improve and bring in new and fresher younger players.

“I accept that my chapter in the club’s success story is at end.”

Blues manager Jeffrey said: “William will go down as one of the great centre backs in the history of this club.

“When you think of the number of appearances he has made for this club, it is quite incredible.

“His influence in the changing room is quite superb. All the players look up to him and respect him.

“His commitment to this club, whether it was playing for the first team or the Swifts, has been absolutely fantastic. His relationship with the supporters has been second to none.”

Jeffrey said the announcement was made on the eve of the final match of the season to give fans the chance to say farewell to Murphy.

Player Billy Joe Burns tweeted on Friday evening: “Gutted to here news on big winky was a pleasure to play along side him a few times… big loss on and off the pitch.”

Saturday will be Winky Murphy's last game for Linfield

Saturday will be Winky Murphy’s last game for Linfield

Cliftonville manager Tommy Breslin says he will field a strong team against Ballinamallard on Saturday – despite having the league title wrapped up.

The Reds have lost two of their three games since clinching the league crown and they will be presented with the trophy after Saturday’s game.

Ballinamallard hope to repeat their surprise early-season win at Solitude.

Victory would mean a fifth-place finish for Whitey Anderson’s men in their first season in the Premiership.

Cliftonville skipper George McMullan will get his hands on the Gibson Cup after the game and it should be quite a party for a club which last lifted the trophy in 1998.

Although promising a strong line-up, Breslin is likely rest some of his title-winning stars with the Irish Cup final against Glentoran coming up on 4 May.

Midfielder Barry Johnston and front man Diarmuid O’Carroll are definitely out with one-match bans for amassing five bookings in a season.

Second-placed Crusaders complete their campaign with a trip to deposed champions Linfield, who have finished third.

Veteran striker David Rainey is set to play his last match for the Crues as he, along with midfielder David Gibson, has not been offered a new contract for next season.

Defender Josh Robinson and midfielder Matthew Snoddy are not available for Crusaders because of suspension.

The match sees veteran defender William Murphy play his last match in a Linfield shirt .

Relegated Lisburn Distillery’s last match in the Premiership is a trip to face Portadown at Shamrock Park.

In the Championship, the big clash is between Institute and Warrenpoint Town who are involved in a fight to finish second and earn a place in the promotion play-off match.

They are level on points with two matches left and Institute have a slightly better goal difference.

So the winners will be favourites to take on Premiership side Donegal Celtic with a place in next season’s top flight on the line.

The first leg of the play-off is to be played on Friday, 10 May and the second on Tuesday, 14 May.

Danske Bank Irish Premiership (3pm kick-offs)

Ballymena v Dungannon Swifts

Cliftonville v Ballinamallard United

Glenavon v Donegal Celtic

Glentoran v Coleraine

Linfield v Crusaders

Portadown v Lisburn Distillery


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