After an absence of 533 days the BetMcLean League Cup makes a welcome return to herald the start of the new domestic season.
The world has changed since James McLaughlin knocked home Coleraine's winner in the 2019/20 final defeat of Crusaders at Windsor Park but when the players and officials take to the field this afternoon it will represent a huge step towards the normality we've come to crave and long for.
There are two First Round games up for contention today (kick-off 3pm), with a third on Tuesday evening.
Dixon Park sees an all-Championship clash as Ballyclare Comrades host Queen's University. Ballyclare last kicked a ball in anger back in April when they were narrowly defeated by Warrenpoint Town in the Irish while, for the Students, it'll be a first competitive outing since October and a 3-0 County Antrim Shield reversal to Dundela.
Meanwhile, in Newry, Darren Mullen's side welcome PIL opponents Tobermore United to The Showgrounds. Newry's most recent competitive action was a Mid-Ulster Cup loss to Annagh United in December but for Tobermore the wait goes all the way back to February last year!
Then, on Tuesday night, Annagh United and Knockbreda go head-to-head on the Tandragee Road, kick-off 7:45pm.
All games will be played to a finish, including 2x15 minutes of extra-time and penalties if required.
BetMcLean League Cup (first round)
Saturday 31st July 2021 - kick-off 3pm
Ballyclare Comrades v Queen's University
Newry City v Tobermore United
Tuesday 3rd August 2021 - kick-off 7:45pm
Annagh United v Knockbreda