Helping hand from league as Premiership clubs prepare to emerge from lockdown

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Ruairi Croskery has signed for Portadown.

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Danske Bank Premiership clubs have been ramping up their preparations for a return to action after lockdown. 

Training sessions are kicking off and there's activity off the pitch also with plenty of transfer speculation.

Glentoran are being linked with a number of players including defenders Josh Robinson and Chris Casement who've recently left Linfield.

Portadown look like they mean business on their return to the top flight. They've secured several current players on new deals and have snapped up  forward Ruairi Croskery from college football in the United States. 

The 23-year-old Castlewellan native has spent the past three years playing for the South Carolina based Limestone University on a scholarship but on his return home Ports boss Matthew Tipton wasted no time signing him for the 2020/21 campaign.
Prior to his spell stateside Croskery was on Manchester United's books as a teenager before spending time with Linfield and then Warrenpoint Town as part of Tipton's Championship winning squad in 2017.

Discussions are continuing about when the league season should start, with many hoping it will be earlier than the October date suggested by some clubs. 

The Irish Cup semi-finals and final are still scheduled for the end of July. 

Meanwhile, NIFL has announced an update on the partnership programmes supporting the mental well-being of clubs and personnel.

Here's the league statement:

We are aware of the importance of mental health at this time and the NI Football League is committed to providing continued practical support and guidance during these difficult times.

Clubs, coaches and players now have five bespoke options from respected partners to assist with mental health and wellbeing support that are immediately available to access.

Sport NI supporting Management Teams (NEW)

As part of Sport NI’s ongoing commitment to mental health and wellbeing the sports psychology team at Sport NI has recently developed a support system for our senior managers and head coaches. This provides one to one contact support which considers both the mental and lifestyle perspectives of sports team management.

Inspire Support Hub (NEW)

Sport NI has recently launched the Inspire Sports Hub to widen access to wellbeing support for sports clubs and associations across Northern Ireland. It helps provide the right help, right now, with instant online access to a range of resources that are tailored to you, as well as information and advice relating specifically to wellbeing and sport. Available from

Top Form Players App (NEW)

During the Covid-19 pandemic players from the NI Football League have been offered free access to this football psychology App. The App supports the development of positive mental health for successful sporting performance and personal wellbeing. Available from

Sporting Chance

Through the continued support of Sport NI, the player welfare programme with mental health and addiction charity Sporting Chance continues to be in place for NIFL clubs. The partnership aims to support the well-being of our clubs, players and personnel and includes counselling and a referral system with team workshops soon to be available online. Available from

Sports Chaplaincy

The Sports Chaplain is increasingly becoming part and parcel of club life across the NI Football League, and sport as a whole. The Chaplain’s work is primarily aimed at the care and welfare of players and staff but also at the wider community of people within the club including supporters and families of players and staff. Available from

Please note the above programmes are all currently available to club personnel but clubs availing of the Coronavirus Job Retention Scheme should be mindful of guidelines relating to any activity prescribed by an employer.

If a NI Football League club, manager or player requires further information, please contact: Steven Mills - 



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