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Premiership Split & European play-offs – all you need to know

The Invermen are coming into the final furlong of their campaign as we move towards the Danske Bank Premiership split and end of season European playoffs.

While we now know the final five fixtures of our Premiership campaign, there are a number of permutations of what may lay in wait in the play-offs and who we could face as part of them.

Last season, Tiernan Lynch’s men qualified for European football for the first time in their 132-year history with two dramatic play-off wins. Here we take a look at how they could repeat the feat a year on.

Post-split fixtures

The Premiership now divides into two sections. Larne’s place in the top six has been secured and that means their remaining fixtures will be against fellow top half teams.

Just one of those games will be at Inver Park, as Larne have already enjoyed home advantage twice against the four Belfast clubs.

Glentoran’s victory last night means the highest league position Larne can now obtain is 4th, which last season was enough to secure two home games in the play-offs. There is a sizeable task to repeat that feat this season as the Invermen are currently eight points behind Crusaders who occupy fourth spot.

Below we take a look at what could be ahead for those play-offs.

European play-offs

The final remaining spot for the Europa Conference League, once the league and Irish Cup campaigns have been concluded, will be decided via the play-offs.

They will involve the team as far down the table as 7th, with Glenavon and Ballymena currently battling it out for that place in the bottom half of the table.

After that, the big question surrounds whoever wins the Irish Cup. Should the Cup be won by a team outside the top seven – Ballymena United or Newry City, as it stands – Β then 6th will take on 7th in a preliminary game for the right to be included in the play-offs against those in 3rd, 4th and 5th.

If the Cup is won by a team in the top three (Cliftonville, as it stands) then the play-offs will be 4th v 7th and 5th v 6th, with the highest ranking winners given home advantage in the final.

If the Cup is won by a team outside the top three (Crusaders, as it stands) then the play-offs will be 3rd v 7th and 5th v 6th, with the highest ranking winners given home advantage in the final.

While there are still a number of permutations still to run before the Irish Cup is concluded, there are two important things to remember.

Firstly, there is an incentive for Larne to finish their post-split fixtures strongly to ensure home advantage in one, if not both of the play-off games.

Secondly, European football remains within Larne’s grasp. Whether in two final games at Inver Park or away from home, the Invermen retain an opportunity to clinch European football for the second time in their history.

We have it all left to play for.

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