Darren McCauley shields the ball from Linfield's Chris Casement (Picture: Lorcan Doherty/PressEye.com)

BLUES AND BANNSIDERS CONTEST ACTION MENTAL HEALTH CHARITY SHIELD

The curtain raises on the new season on Saturday when Coleraine and Linfield contest the Action Mental Health Charity Shield at The Oval (kick-off 3pm).

The annual opener to the new campaign sees David Healy's Blues lock horns with Oran Kearney's Bannsiders after a busy summer for both sides, on and off the field.

Neither side have taken part in the Shield since it was reintroduced in 2014 although the Blues did win it twice (and shared it once more) in a previous incarnation.

Linfield go into the game on the back of a Champions League campaign which saw them defeat La Fiorita from San Marino before acquitting themselves well in back-to-back games with Scottish champions Celtic.

Coleraine were also in European action, losing heavily in Norway to FK Haugesund but restoring considerable pride in the return at The Showgrounds.

Oran Kearney has strengthened his panel over the summer, bringing in Josh Carson (Linfield), highly-rated Limavady United striker Joe McCready, former Institute skipper Stephen O'Donnell and Aaron Traynor from Warrenpoint Town.

David Healy has been less active in the transfer market, although the cross channel arrivals of Josh Robinson and Jordan Stewart will boost a squad that will be looking to add to their league and cup double from last season.

The sides last met, of course, in the Irish Cup final back in May when Andrew Waterworth grabbed a hat-trick as Linfield swept to a 3-0 victory although, unfortunately, he will be missing on Saturday after picking up an injury at Celtic Park.

Entry to the game will be £8 adult, £5 for 12-16 years-old, U12s enjoy free admission.

Tags:  Coleraine  Linfield