Irish Premiership: Champions Linfield off to winning start

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Irish Premiership: Blues begin title defence with win over Carrick

Champions Linfield started the new Irish Premiership season with a 2-0 home win over Carrick Rangers.

Niall Quinn drilled in the opener and then crossed for Kirk Millar to head the second before half-time.

Joe Gormley marked his return to Cliftonville by scoring twice as Barry Gray celebrated his first match as boss with a 6-3 victory over Ards.

Coleraine had Steven Douglas sent-off but still won 3-1 at Dungannon while Glentoran beat Ballinamallard 2-1.

On Friday night, last season's runners-up Crusaders beat Ballymena United 4-1.

Linfield's victory was never in doubt once Quinn drilled a low left-foot shot beyond Carrick keeper Harry Doherty in the 16th minute at Windsor Park.

David Healy's double winners, unbeaten in domestic competition since early January, went 2-0 up though Millar and could have made it three after the break but Jordan Stewart's tame penalty was saved by Doherty.

Cliftonville hit six against Ards

Joe Gormley of Cliftonville
Joe Gormley marked his return to Cliftonville by scoring twice in a 6-3 win over Ards

Cliftonville, boosted by the return to the club of record scorer Gormley after a spell at Peterborough, had an early scare at home to Ards when Jonny Frazer gave the visitors an early lead.

But Gormley's double, two more from Jay Donnelly, a Chris Curran strike and a Scott Davidson own goal saw new boss Gray get off to a winning start at Solitude.

Former Warrenpoint manager Gray was appointed in May after Gerard Lyttle left to take charge of Sligo Rovers.

Coleraine, third last season, were drawing 0-0 at Dungannon when their defender Douglas was sent-off for a second yellow card offence.

But Oran Kearney's team went 2-0 up through Ciaron Harkin and Stephen O'Donnell before Ryan Mayse pulled a goal back for the Swifts.

Ballinamallard manager Gavin Dykes was adamant Curtis Allen's second goal should have been disallowed for hand ball
Ballinamallard manager Gavin Dykes was adamant Curtis Allen's second goal should have been disallowed for hand ball

Dungannon keeper Andy Coleman was sent-off for bringing down Brad Lyons late on and stand-in Jarlath O'Rourke had no chance as Ian Parkhill fired in a spectacular third for the Bannsiders.

Two goals by top striker Curtis Allen gave Glentoran their 2-1 win away to Ballinamallard United.

But Ballinamallard furiously protested that Allen had netted the 87th-minute winner with his hand.

The hosts had taken the lead through a Ryan Curran penalty but Allen levelled before the break.

Marc Griffin scored twice on his debut to help Glenavon edge Warrenpoint Town 3-2 at Milltown.

Griffin fired twice early on to give the Lurgan Blues a two-goal lead before Point rallied back through Darren Murray.

The former Cliftonville striker headed past Jonathan Tuffey before firing a second from the penalty spot, having been fouled by Simon Kelly.

Bobby Burns smashed a great strike in from the edge of the box to give Gary Hamilton's side the points.

Danske Bank Premiership results
Ballinamallard Utd1-2Glentoran
Cliftonville6-3Ards
Dungannon Swifts1-3Coleraine
Linfield2-0Carrick Rangers
Warrenpoint Town2-3Glenavon
Bluefin Sport Championship
Ballyclare Comrades2-1Loughgall
Larne0-3Portadown
Limavady United3-1H&W Welders
Lurgan Celtic2-1Newry City
PSNI0-0Knockbreda

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