Preview: 2023 NIFL Women’s Premiership

Apr 18, 2023 | Club News, Womens

The wait is almost over as our Women’s side prepare to get their first ever Premiership season underway later this month.

We were promoted last year as we won the NIWFA Championship last year and will now compete against the nation’s best in the forthcoming season.

The campaign will get underway with an away trip to Sion Swifts Ladies on April 23, whilst our first home game comes a week later against Lisburn Ladies.

This article takes a look at the newly formatted league structure and who to watch out for.

The Structure:

Following our promotion alongside Ballymena United, the division has expanded to ten teams, meanwhile, this season marks the advent for professionalism for women’s football in Northern Ireland.

The changes will see each team face off twice over the course of the season which will run from April to October.

With the 2022 season being without relegation, the 2023 campaign will revert back to normal and see bottom of the table fall into the Championship.

Another element of the restructure means the majority of fixtures over the summer will be played on Friday nights – a time slot which has seen many benefits for our men’s side.

The Teams:

Anyone who follows football in Northern Ireland will know that many of the same teams that preside at the top of the men’s game also do in the women’s

Cliftonville are the reigning Champions, having won their first title last season. Meanwhile, Glentoran and Linfield have been two of the more dominant side over recent years with eight of the last ten League titles between them.

Sion Swifts, who we face on matchday one came fifth in the 2022 season whereas Crusaders Strikers who we face a month later came third.

Ourselves and Ballymena are the newcomers, both promoted following successful seasons in the Championship and hoping to make a mark on the division.

However, we face a tough start to life in the Premiership as we face four of last seasons top five in our opening fixtures.

Our first five fixtures are as follows:

23rd April – Sion Swifts Ladies (A)

28th April – Lisburn Ladies (H)

5th May – Glentoran Ladies (A)

12th May – Cliftonville Ladies (H)

19th May – Crusaders Strikers (A)

The Players:

One major difference between the men’s and women’s Premiership is that there is an abundance of Northern Ireland internationals in the female league.

Of the 23 strong squad that suffered defeat to Wales Andrew Waterworth selected 13 players play in the local top flight, a stark contrast to Michael O’Neill’s men’s side which most recently had none.

Glentoran had the most of any side with six (Nadene Caldwell, Joely Andrews, Chloe McCarron, Caragh Hamilton, Emily Wilson & Kerry Beattie.) Meanwhile, Cliftonville had five, whilst Mid Ulster and Crusaders had one each.

With other players within the league also being capped, there is plenty of talent distributed amongst the squads.

We ourselves have also got plenty of ability within our squad with plenty of new signings adding to what was already a strong Larne team.

Now with the season just days away, hopefully we can get off to a positive start against Sion Swifts.

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