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Full Time

2018/19 Danske Bank Premiership fixtures released

By Adam McKendry

Danske Bank Premiership champions Crusaders will host Ards in the first game of their title defence on August 4.

Stephen Baxter's men will welcome Colin Nixon and his side to Seaview to begin their campaign before facing three of last year's top six in their following four fixtures.

A trip to Ballymena United is followed by home ties with Linfield and Coleraine to give the Shore Road side a tough opening to their quest to retain their crown.

Coleraine, meanwhile, open with a home match against Warrenpoint Town, followed by a visit to Solitude to clash with Cliftonville.

Arguably the pick of the ties on opening day is Linfield's trip to Mourneview Park to face Glenavon, while there's a tasty Belfast derby between Glentoran and Cliftonville.

Top flight new boys Institute and Newry City will be re-acquainted on the first day of the season when they face off at the Brandywell, while Dungannon Swifts host Ballymena.

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Linfield and Glentoran will meet for the first time on October 6

Last year's top two, Crusaders and Coleraine, meet for the first time at Seaview on September 1, while the first 'Big Two' match between Linfield and Glentoran will be at The Oval on October 6.

The annual Boxing Day fixtures see rivalries renewed with Ballymena hosting Coleraine, Linfield welcoming Glentoran and Cliftonville at home to Crusaders in three festive crackers.

There will also be fixtures on New Year's Day, with Cliftonville's trip to the Coleraine Showgrounds and Crusaders hosting Ballymena the pick of the bunch.

There will be plenty to be decided on the final day of fixtures before the split, which takes place on March 23, with Linfield's trip to Dungannon Swifts looking particularly tasty.

Cliftonville will be at home to Glentoran, Crusaders are on the road to Ards, Institute play host to Coleraine in a local derby, Newry City welcome Glenavon and Ballymena make the trip to Warrenpoint.

The full fixture list can be found below, or on the Northern Ireland Football League website: www.nifootballleague.com.

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