The talking is done, excitement is building and preparations are almost complete ahead of the new Danske Bank Premiership season.
Managers and players from the 12 clubs exchanged pleasantries at Wednesday night’s official league launch in the Mervyn Brown Suite at the National Stadium, but you could see they we all chomping at the bit to get down to the real business.
The action kicks off for real on Friday night as Ballymena United host Crusaders, with Warrenpoint Town’s Saturday evening kick off at home to Glenavon bringing down the curtain on matchday one.
This year will have a lot to live up to though following last season’s thrilling climax.
“Last season we witnessed one of the most dramatic title races in recent times with the destination of the Gibson Cup determined on a nail biting last day of the season,” said NIFL Managing Director Andrew Johnston.
“Linfield overcame a nine-point deficit to win the Danske Bank Premiership to deny Crusaders a third successive title. Linfield will be keen to retain their title but it won’t be easy as all twelve clubs have set about their business in recent months to strengthen their playing squads for the new season.”
Fans will be looking forward to seeing the new additions in their club colours. The return of the likes of Joe Gormley and Jordan Stewart will only help to boost the profile of the league, which continues to thrive under title sponsors Danske Bank.
Nicola McCleery, Head of Marketing at Danske Bank said: “We’re very proud to be entering our sixth season as title sponsors of the Danske Bank Premiership.
“Our partnership with the Northern Ireland Football League in both the Men’s and Women’s Premierships is very important to us; it not only allows us to play our part in the community but also provides good visibility for our brand given the strong following behind all the clubs.
“We are delighted to be here at the National Stadium at Windsor Park and alongside the teams, the fans and the followers that make the Premiership such a success. We look forward to an exciting season ahead.”