Cliftonville manager Tommy Breslin insists champions need to hit ground running on August 9

Cliftonville manager Tommy Breslin
Cliftonville manager Tommy Breslin

Cliftonville boss Tommy Breslin insists his champions will have to hit the ground running when they kick-off the defence of their title on August 9.

The release of the Danske Bank Premiership fixtures has thrown up a testing opening month for the Reds.

They will start their campaign at home to Glentoran, followed by a trip to Portadown four days later.

Next up will be Premiership newcomers Institute followed by Irish Cup winners Glenavon and Ballinamallard United.

“It is a tough opening schedule, but I am sure every other team will be saying the same about their own fixtures,” Breslin said.

“We will have to be on our mettle and up for the challenge, and I am confident that come August 9 will be raring to go.

“Glentoran is a tough opener, but it is also a v ery attractive fixture for the players. So we are excited at the prospect of getting our title defence up and running again.

“I have said before that every game in this league is tough, so it wouldn’t have mattered who we got in the opening fixtures.”