The Danske Bank Women's Premiership kicks off tonight (c) Presseye / Darren Kidd
Wednesday, 18 April 2018
The Danske Bank Women's Premiership gets under way for the third season tonight and Jonny Martin previews the start of another exciting year.
Derry City Ladies v Linfield Ladies (venue: Brandywell; kick-off: 8pm)
Newly promoted Derry City Ladies welcome champions Linfield Ladies to the Brandywell to get the season up and running in a mouth watering opening fixture. The North West side is managed by Dan Nolan and assistant manager Caoimhe Logue will also play her part in the season as a player.
In the off season the Candystripes have recruited eight new signings. Naomi McMullan and Aine McKeever bringing much experience to the side having played for Ballymena United Allstars and Sion Swifts. Derry City Ladies are making a return to the top flight having previously played in the first NIFL Women's Premiership season.
It’s been a quiet off-season at the Champions and Phil Lewis takes the hotseat in charge of Linfield Ladies this campaign. Lewis has previous coaching experience with Linfield Rangers and was first team coach at Carrick Rangers. The champions have retained all of last season’s squad and are boosted by the return of Kirsty McGuiness after she had a spell in Canada. Linfield have doubts over the fitness of Leontina McVarnock who has a back injury but bar that they are at full strength for what should be a fantastic opening Danske Bank Women's Premiership fixture.
Glentoran Womens v Crusaders Strikers (venue: The Oval, kick-off: 8pm)
Glentoran host Crusaders Strikers in the first Belfast derby of the season. Glentoran have been re-branded as Glentoran Women’s following some years as Glentoran Belfast United. Last season the Glens finished in mid table and will be looking to kick on and challenge for their first Dankse Bank Women’s Premiership crown. The Glens have made three signings, Nadene Caldwell and Demi Vance have returned from Australia and Aofie Lennon has returned from New Zealand.
Crusaders Strikers have had a very busy winter recruiting former Linfield Ladies manager Ryan McConville. As part of the coaching staff McConville will bring Davy Welshman, Jason Sullivan and Tuda Murphy into the setup. In terms of players the North Belfast side have also recruited Grace Murray, Trudi Harbinson, Celine Curtis, Rebecca Bassett, Nicole Adams, Sophie Watters and Melissa Orr. Returning to the Crusaders side following a two year break following knee surgery is Chloe Archibald.
Portadown Ladies v Cliftonville Ladies (venue: Shamrock Park; kick-off: 8pm)
The final fixture of the opening night sees newly promoted and reformed Portadown Ladies welcomes Cliftonville Ladies to Shamrock Park. Its been a changing and positive time for Portadown who are now intergrated with the men’s side. The visitors Cliftonville are managed by Marty Douglas and will have the experienced Northern Ireland international Marissa Callaghan who has been appointed player coach. Both Douglas and Callaghan are assisted by Jo Smith in the dugout.
Player wise at Solitude the Reds have signed Shannon Grattan (previously at Crusaders), Chloe Orr (Mid Ulster) and Orlaith McVeagh (previously Linfield). Cliftonville will also be boosted by the return of Emma McMaster who missed much of last season as she was on Northern Ireland Under-19 duty.