2021–22 NIFL Championship

The 2021–22 NIFL Championship (known as the Lough 41 Championship for sponsorship reasons) is the fifth season of the NIFL Championship since gaining senior status. It is the second-tier of the Northern Ireland Football League - the national football league in Northern Ireland. The season began on 7 August 2021 and will conclude in April 2022.

NIFL Championship
Season2021–22
Dates7 Aug 2021 – April 2022
Matches played120
Goals scored368 (3.07 per match)
Biggest home winDergivew 5–0 Institute
(7 August 2021)
Biggest away winKnockbreda 1–6 Loughgall
(11 September 2021)
Highest scoringH&W Welders 5–3 Ballinamallard United
(30 October 2021)
2022–23
All statistics correct as of 13 January 2022.

The Championship returned after a one-year hiatus, following the cancellation of the 2020–21 season due to the COVID-19 pandemic in Northern Ireland.

Portadown are the current champions from the 2019–20 season. However, as they won promotion and are competing in the 2021–22 NIFL Premiership they cannot defend their title.

TeamsEdit

Locations of the Belfast-based 2021–22 NIFL Championship teams

The 2021–22 NIFL Championship is being contested by 12 teams, ten of which retained their Championship status from the 2019–20 season. Portadown were champions in the previous season, and were promoted to the 2020–21 NIFL Premiership. They were replaced by the bottom team in the NIFL Premiership, Institute. Runners-up Ballinamallard United missed out on promotion, as the NIFL Premiership play-off was cancelled as a result of the COVID-19 pandemic in Northern Ireland.

The bottom Championship team from the previous season, PSNI, were relegated to the third-tier NIFL Premier Intermediate League. They were replaced by Annagh United, winners of the Premier Intermediate League. The eleventh-placed Championship team from the previous season, Knockbreda, had a reprieve, as the NIFL Championship play-off was cancelled as a result of the COVID-19 pandemic in Northern Ireland.

Stadia and locationsEdit

Club Stadium Location Capacity[1]
Annagh United Tandragee Road Portadown 1,250 (100 seated)
Ards Bangor Fuels Arena Bangor 1,895 (500 seated)
Ballinamallard United Ferney Park Ballinamallard 2,000 (250 seated)
Ballyclare Comrades Dixon Park Ballyclare 5,333
Dergview Darragh Park Castlederg 1,200
Dundela Wilgar Park Belfast 2,500
Harland & Wolff Welders Tillysburn Park Belfast 3,000
Institute Ryan McBride Brandywell Stadium Derry 8,200
Knockbreda Breda Park Belfast 1,000
Loughgall Lakeview Park Loughgall 3,000
Newry City The Showgrounds Newry 2,275 (1,080 seated)
Queen's University Upper Malone Belfast 1,000 (330 seated)

League tableEdit

Pos Team Pld W D L GF GA GD Pts Promotion, qualification or relegation[a]
1 Newry City 23 14 5 4 40 19 +21 47 Promotion to the NIFL Premiership
2 Ballinamallard United 23 12 5 6 46 31 +15 41 Qualification for the NIFL Premiership play-off[b]
3 Annagh United 22 13 2 7 45 33 +12 41
4 Loughgall 21 11 4 6 36 18 +18 37
5 Ards 22 11 4 7 38 25 +13 37
6 Harland & Wolff Welders 22 11 2 9 35 34 +1 35
7 Dergview 23 9 6 8 34 29 +5 33
8 Ballyclare Comrades 22 9 3 10 31 39 −8 30
9 Knockbreda 22 7 7 8 39 49 −10 28
10 Dundela 23 5 6 12 32 39 −7 21
11 Institute 23 5 5 13 18 44 −26 20 Qualification for the NIFL Championship play-off
12 Queen's University 23 2 3 18 13 47 −34 9 Relegation to the NIFL Premier Intermediate League
Updated to match(es) played on 13 January 2022. Source: NIFL Championship
Rules for classification: 1) Points; 2) Goal difference; 3) Number of goals scored; 4) Head-to-head points; 5) Head-to-head goal difference; 6) Drawing of lots[2]
Notes:
  1. ^ Teams will play each other three times (33 matches), before the league splits into two groups (the top six and the bottom six) for the last five matches.
  2. ^ If the runners-up do not attain a promotion licence, the next highest-placed team eligible for promotion that finishes 6th or higher will enter the play-off against the 11th-placed NIFL Premiership club. If no team finishing 2nd to 6th attains a promotion licence the play-off will not take place.

ResultsEdit

Matches 34–38Edit

For the final five matches the table then splits into two halves, with teams ranked 1st–6th in Section A and teams ranked 7th–12th in Section B. During matches 34–38 each team plays every other team in their respective section once. The fixtures are reversed from those played during rounds 23–33, ensuring that teams have played every other team in their respective section twice at home and twice away overall throughout the season.

Season statisticsEdit

Top scorersEdit

Rank Player Club Goals
1   B.J Banda Ballinamallard United 16
2   Benny Igiehon Dergview 13
3   Nedas Maciulaitis Loughgall 11
  Michael McLellan H&W Welders
5   Joshua McIlwaine Ballinamallard United 10
6   Ruairi McDonald Annagh United 9
7   Daniel Hughes Newry City 8

ReferencesEdit

  1. ^ "NIFL Championship Venues 2021-2022". Soccerway. Retrieved 10 September 2021.
  2. ^ "Rules and Regulations". NIFL. Retrieved 3 September 2021.

External linksEdit