H&W Welders boss Gary Smyth will welcome recently relegated Institute to Tillysburn Park (Picture: Kevin Scott/PressEye.com)

THE RACE FOR CHAMPIONSHIP 1 GLORY BEGINS

Championship 1 kicks off on Saturday with all 14 sides will be dreaming of achieving promotion to the Danske Bank Premiership come the end of the season.

Changes have taken place from last with Institute replacing promoted Carrick Rangers while Lurgan Celtic and Annagh United make the step up from Championship 2.

Annagh United host Armagh City with the home side having their eyes firmly set on staying in Championship 1 and will be hoping they can repeat their goal scoring exploits from last season as they ended up the highest goal scoring team in Championship 2, having scored 73 goals.

On the other hand, City will be hoping to improve from last season as they finished in 7th place. The last time these sides faced each other was back in 2014 when they both plied their trade in Championship 2, with Armagh City winning that tie 3-0. 

Ards entertain Lisburn Distillery and will be looking a repeat of their last encounter when they ran out 4-0 winners.

Ards will also be hoping that they continue their form from last season as they went on a run of 12 games without defeat towards the end of the season. 

Elsewhere, Ballyclare Comrades entertain Loughgall and both sides will be looking to kick on from last season after finishing 9th and 11th respectively. 

Larne will be looking towards promotion this season after finishing 5th last term and will be hoping to kick the season off in a positive fashion when they travel to Dergview hoping to avenge the 3-2 defeat they suffered on the last trip to Darragh Park.

Relegated Institute travel to H&W Welders hoping to forget all their memories of last season. New manager, Kevin Deery, has added to his squad but will have to deal with the loss of key players who have joined clubs in the top flight.

The Welders have managed to keep a hold of Michael McLellan, who scored 48 goals last season. The Tillysburn Park will be hoping he is as prolific this season as he was last.

Knockbreda host Bangor and will be looking to avoid the same outcome from when the clubs last played, as they suffered a 4-2 defeat. Bangor will hope to go one better from last season as they were defeated by Warrenpoint Town on penalties in the promotion/relegation playoff.

Newly promoted Lurgan Celtic host Donegal Celtic in their first Championship 1 game of the season. The new boys will be aiming to avoid the drop this season along with Donegal Celtic who narrowly avoided relegation last season by one point.

NIFL Championship 1 - August 8 2015 (kick-off 3pm)
Annagh United v. Armagh City
Ards v. Lisburn Distillery
Ballyclare Comrades v. Loughgall
Dergview v. Larne
H&W Welders v. Institute
Knockbreda v. Bangor
Lurgan Celtic v. Donegal Celtic