Friday, 04 August 2017
Although the bread and butter of league football doesn't get underway for another week the season begins in earnest on Saturday with the First Round of the BetMcLean League Cup.
Amongst the games on offer is the meeting of Portstewart and Limavady United at Seahaven.
The Seahawks, back in the NIFL structure, gained promotion after clinching the NI Intermediate League title during a treble winning season and then defeating Dollingstown in the play-offs but will find the Roesiders an extremely tough proposition.
The Roesiders not only finished last season as Premier Intermediate League champions but also added to their trophy haul with the IFA Intermediate Cup and Craig Memorial Cup.
United have lost Joe McCready to Coleraine but, in return, have picked up Shane Jennings who will no doubt looking to establish an efficient partnership with Robbie Hume.
Armagh City, following a disappointing campaign which ultimately ended in relegation from the Championship, will be hoping to kick-off new manager Joe Kerr's tenure with victory over HW Welders at Tillysburn Park.
However, the Welders have enjoyed a successful pre-season with victory in the East Belfast Tournament, while boss Gary Smyth has been active in the transfer window bringing in, amongst others, Ross Arthurs from Ards and former Crusaders and Linfield youth 'keeper Jason Craughwell.
Elsewhere, Annagh United - headline grabbers following a famous defeat of Glentoran in last season's competition - head to Castlederg to face Dergview at Darragh Park (kick-off 2:30pm) while Sport & Leisure Swifts welcome Lurgan Celtic to Glen Road Heights.
Pat McAllister's side, celebrating their 40th anniversary, will be hoping for a repeat of last month's friendly between the sides when two goals from Conor Glenholmes helped Leisure to a 3-1 victory.
BetMcLean League Cup - First Round (kick-off 3pm unless stated)
The draw for the Second Round (to be played 29th August) will be made live on Radio Ulster and NIFL's Facebook page from 5:20pm on Saturday.