Linfield open their title defence against Carrick Rangers (Picture: PressEye.com)

SEASON 2017/18 FIXTURES ANNOUNCED

The Danske Bank Premiership, NIFL Championship and NIFL Premier Intermediate League fixtures for season 2017/18 have been released.

The campaign begins on Saturday 12th August with champions Linfield kicking off their defence of the Gibson Cup at home to Carrick Rangers, a challenging start for new 'Gers boss David McAlinden.

Crusaders, pipped at the post last season, travel to League Cup holders Ballymena United while Coleraine, third last term, head to Stangmore Park to face Dungannon Swifts.

Newly promoted Warrenpoint Town begin life back in the top flight by welcoming Gary Hamilton's Glenavon to Milltown while former 'Point boss Barry Gray opens up his new role in the Cliftonville hotseat with a home game against Ards.

Meanwhile, Glentoran fans will relish the prospect of a day out as they travel west to take on Ballinamallard United at Ferney Park.

Moving into the Championship, relegated Portadown will be looking to bounce back at the first attempt but could have a tough opener against Tiarnan Lynch's Larne at Inver Park.

New Institute boss Paddy McLaughlin begins his tenure with a short trip to Castlederg to face Dergview while Ballyclare Comrades, third last season, welcome Loughgall to Dixon Park.

Of the duo coming up, Limavady United host HW Welders while Newry City visit Lurgan Celtic.

Portstewart mark their return to the Premier Intermediate League with a journey south to Holm Park and Armagh City while Annagh United, relegated with the Eagles at the end of last season, entertain Tobermore United.

Match Day 1 fixtures - Saturday, 12th August, 2017 (all 3pm)

Danske Bank Premiership
Ballinamallard United v. Glentoran
Ballymena United v. Crusaders
Cliftonville v. Ards
Dungannon Swifts v. Coleraine
Linfield v. Carrick Rangers
Warrenpoint Town v. Glenavon

NIFL Championship
Ballyclare Comrades v. Loughgall
Dergview v. Institute
Larne v. Portadown
Limavady United v. HW Welders
Lurgan Celtic v. Newry City
PSNI v. Knockbreda

NIFL Premier Intermediate League
Annagh United v. Tobermore United
Armagh City v. Portstewart
Donegal Celtic v. Dundela
Moyola Park v. Banbridge Town
Newington v. Lisburn Distillery
Queen's University v. Sport & Leisure Swifts

Right click to view the fixtures in full:-

Danske Bank Premiership
NIFL Championship
NIFL Premier Intermediate League

Watch as Michael Clarke and Stephen Looney give their verdict on the opening round of games:-