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Ballymena United face difficult start to County Antrim Shield defence against H&W Welders

By Adam McKendry

Ballymena United face a tough opening tie as they begin their defence of the County Antrim Shield at home to Championship outfit Harland & Wolff Welders.

David Jeffrey's men were initially drawn away to the Welders. However, the game has been moved to the Ballymena Showgrounds instead.

With the Premiership sides seeded, and therefore unable to meet each other in the first round, this is the toughest draw the Sky Blues could have asked for as they endeavour to clinch back-to-back crowns.

Elsewhere, Premiership champions Crusaders will also have a tough opening fixture having been drawn away to Championship side Larne, who have started the season well and are currently in second place after picking up two wins from their two games.

Glentoran are also on the road to Championship opposition as they travel to league leaders Ballyclare Comrades, while surprise Premiership pacesetters Ards will welcome another Championship side, Knockbreda, to the Bangor Fuels Arena.

David Healy's Linfield, who were runners-up in this competition last year, will play Intermediate League side Donegal Celtic at Windsor Park, while Cliftonville are also at home to Intermediate League opposition as they host Bangor.

Carrick Rangers will have to overcome Championship opposition to reach the second round after they were drawn at home to PSNI.

The only tie not to feature any Premiership involvement will be at Seaview where Intermediate League side Newington YC will host Amateur Football League outfit Albert Foundry.

Toals Bookmakers County Antrim Senior Shield Round 1 Draw (ties to take place on September 20):

Ards vs. Knockbreda, Ballyclare Comrades vs. Glentoran, Ballymena United vs. H&W Welders, Carrick Rangers vs. PSNI, Cliftonville vs. Bangor, Larne vs. Crusaders, Linfield vs. Donegal Celtic, Newington YC vs. Albert Foundry.

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