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Monday 24 Apr 2023
League titles successes for Smith and Furness

Northern Ireland senior internationals Paul Smyth and Rachel Furness were celebrating at the weekend after their respective teams clinched titles. 

Paul Smyth was celebrating Leyton Orient winning the EFL League Two title after the South London team’s 2-0 win at home to Crewe Alexandra on Saturday. 

And Rachel Furness and her teammates at Bristol City Women secured the FA WSL 2 title following a 4-0 win over Charlton Athletic Women on Sunday. 

Midfielder Liam Donnelly scored for the second successive game to help relegation threatened Kilmarnock to their first away win of the season as they beat Stephen Robinson’s St Mirren 2-0 at the SMISA stadium.

It was Donnelly’s third goal of the campaign for Killie who now go into the split in the Scottish Premiership still in the relegation play-off position with five games remaining. 

“It’s taken us far too long to get that first win,” Donnelly told the BBC, “ A few performances haven’t been the best either so it’s nice to finally get that first away win, that gives us a bit of confidence. 

“We’ve got a bit of momentum at the minute at an important time of the season for us,” he added, “so it’s good to get that away win because our home form has been quite strong throughout the season.”

Also among the goals at the weekend was George Saville who found the net for only the second time this term as Millwall’s Championship play-off hopes suffered a set-back following a 2-1 defeat at bottom-of-the-table Wigan Athletic. 

In the Danske Bank Premiership, winger Niall McGinn scored twice for Glentoran in their 3-0 home success against Coleraine to take his tally since his arrival at the Oval to nine. 

In League One, both Conor Bradley and Dion Charles started for Bolton Wanderers who extended their unbeaten run to seven games following their narrow 1-0 home success over Shrewsbury Town.

Elsewhere in the division, former Warrenpoint Town and Northern Ireland under-19 international Stephen McMullan made his debut for Fleetwood Town and kept a clean sheet as the Lancashire outfit claimed all three points following a 1-0 victory over lowly MK Dons.

Speaking to the club website after the game manager Scott Brown said: “It’s fantastic for Stevie, he’s worked hard all season and is another player who we’ve brought over from Northern Ireland as we have a good connection with the Irish market.

“I’m delighted for the wee man to have kept a clean sheet,” he added. “He had a couple of big saves to make as well and I thought the calmness he had when the ball was at his feet was very good.”

Domestically, it was the opening weekend of the Sports Direct Women’s Premiership, and quite a number of Northern Ireland international’s managed to get their name on the scoresheet.

International skipper Marissa Callaghan scored twice and Kirsty McGuinness once as Cliftonville began the defence of their title with a 3-0 home win against Linfield.

Last season’s runner’s up Glentoran, started their campaign off in emphatic fashion with an 11-0 victory over Derry City Women with Demi Vance (2), Kerry Beattie (2), Nadene Caldwell, Caragh Hamilton, Joely Andrews and Emily Wilson all among the goals.

Finally, in the U21 Premier League Ruairi McConville scored his first goal of the season as Brighton & Hove Albion U21’s recorded a 3-2 victory over Manchester United.