02 Jul 2024
© William Cherry/PressEye Aaron Donnelly (Larne), Jonny Smyth (Action Mental Health) and Ronan Hale (Cliftonville) look forward to Friday's Charity Shield clash at Inver Park

The NIFL Charity Shield, in partnership with Action Mental Health, is back once again this Friday night when Larne take on Cliftonville at Inver Park (5th July), kick-off 7:45pm.

The annual curtain raiser to the season, by tradition, pitts the Premiership champions against the Irish Cup winners. Larne, debutants last summer, will be hoping to go one better this time after losing by two goals to Crusaders while the Reds are competing for the first time in a decade with a view to lifting the Shield for the third time.

The game will also provide an important return to competitive action for both clubs as they prepare for their forthcoming European exploits.

Larne will travel to face Latvian side FC RFS in the Champions League on July 10th, but Cliftonville will have a little longer to wait before they discover their Conference League opponents, either B36 Torshavn or FK Auda, with the games to be played at the end of the month.

The Reds have prepared for Friday's game with a couple of friendlies against Welsh opposition. Jim Magilton's side went down 5-1 to The New Saints last Thursday night before then losing to Caernarfon Town at the weekend.

Larne have so far made the short trip across the Irish Sea to draw with Stranraer before defeating another Welsh side, Bala Town, by the odd goal in three at Inver Park.

The sides met five times last season. Their most recent encounter saw Larne power to a stunning 8-1 defeat of the Reds at Inver Park on a night Andy Ryan bagged a hat-trick alongside goals from Lee Bonis, Aaron Donnelly, Leroy Millar, Joe Thomson and Chris Gallagher.

Ryan found the net again less than a fortnight earlier to that when - along with a Luke Kenny own goal - Larne edged to victory at Solitude but just days prior to that the Reds accounted for Tiernan Lynch's side in the Irish Cup semi-finals with Jonny Addis and Ronan Hale finding the net at Windsor Park.

Earlier in the season Larne came out on top again in a league encounter at Inver Park, while the sides battled to an equal share of the spoils back in August.

Streamed live on the official NIFL YouTube channel, Tony Clarke takes charge of Friday's game assisted by Shane Geary and Brian Wilson, while Shane McGonigle has been named as fourth official.

Tickets are still available. Priced at £10 and £5, they can be purchased by clicking here.