All change as battle begins for the women's title but Blues aim to keep crown at Windsor

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Players from the seven teams and sponsors at the NIFL launch.

Q Radio Sport

It looks set to be a fascinating battle for the Danske Bank Women's Premiership this summer with teams vying to stop Linfield Ladies making it a hat-trick of titles.

The league season was launched at Windsor Park on Thursday night, with seven clubs in the mix including newcomers Derry City and Portadown.

Kick-off is on Wednesday April 18th when Linfield launch their defence of the trophy with a game against Derry at the Brandywell.

Glentoran host Crusaders Strikers and Portadown's opening fixture is at home to Cliftonville.

Sion Swifts have a free week. 

2015 winners Newry City Ladies have withdrawn from the league with many of their local players moving to other clubs.

Former Linfield boss Ryan McConville has returned from the United States to take over as head coach of the Crues.

He's expecting a competitive campaign...

At the launch, vice chairperson of the Women’s Premiership committee Clare Kirkwood said: “We are extremely excited about the 2018 season with the addition of another round of fixtures and the extension of the league. The Danske Bank Women’s Premiership has reacted to the demand for more women’s football and we are happy to lead the way in this regard. This will lead to more exposure for the women’s game and with all clubs strengthening their playing squads the 2018 season is shaping up to be very competitive.”

Nicola McCleery, head of marketing at Danske Bank, added: “This is now the third season in which we have been the title sponsor of the Danske Bank Women’s Premiership. As we approached the 2018 season we wanted to really support the clubs as small businesses and help grow their fan base at grassroots. We wanted to go further than badging our logo and see what we could really do to make more possible for Women’s Premiership clubs in the community.

“The Danske Bank Women’s Premiership Toolkit has therefore been designed to offer additional support, advice, workshops and resources to help club development throughout the season. We hope our support will help give Northern Irish women’s football at all levels the status and recognition it deserves, helping to grow the game and develop the next squad of international footballers.”

Wednesday April 18, 8pm

Derry City Ladies v Linfield Ladies

Glentoran Women v Crusaders Strikers

Portadown Ladies v Cliftonville Ladies

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