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Every Premiership test is massive, claims Crusaders defender Chris Hegarty


Big guns: Chris Hegarty says the league’s big hitters are getting stronger

Big guns: Chris Hegarty says the league’s big hitters are getting stronger

Stephen Hamilton/Inpho

Big guns: Chris Hegarty says the league’s big hitters are getting stronger

Now Crusaders have bowed out of Europe after a brave fight with Swiss giants Basel, attention is swiftly turning to the new domestic season and defender Chris Hegarty believes every Premeirship clash is fraught with danger.

Stephen Baxter’s side, who held Basel 1-1 at Seaview last week as they lost 3-1 on aggregate in their Europa Conference League qualifier, will resume local hostilities in the Charity Shield Final against Linfield at Windsor Park on Saturday.

The Shield showdown, in partnership with White Ribbon NI, is a curtain raiser for the new campaign which promises to be another ferocious challenge for the sides chasing honours and European qualification.

“The test is massive,” said former Blues ace Hegarty. “Linfield, Glentoran and the other clubs have strengthened the league is getting better every year.

“There’s a high calibre of player and standards are rising. Whether you are away to Newry or Dungannon or Carrick, there’s no easy games anymore.

“Every game brings its own challenge and you have to study teams closely. Every club has something to fight for no matter where they are in the table.

“It’s going to be another interesting season and the European gameshave been good preparation for us as will the Charity Shield be. We just have to look after ourselves.”

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Crusaders’ return to the European stage was sealed by dramatic Irish Cup success.

“The Cup win was a big confidence booster and we will look at the games last year when we could have done better,” added Hegarty.

“We will break last season down but the Cup win was a huge boost and the squad has been kept together with a few additions.

“The lads are a tight knit bunch and it’s a great dressing room. The way we finished last season can only help us get off to a strong start again.”

Coleraine, meanwhile, confirmed the signing of defender Kieran Farren on a two-year contract from Dergview.

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