Coleraine manager Oran Kearney considers his side’s fixtures as providing a “tricky opening” to the forthcoming Danske Bank Premiership campaign.
Kearney’s men travel to Dungannon Swifts in the curtain-raiser before clashes with North Belfast duo Cliftonville and Crusaders.
The Bannsiders finish August with a date at home against Warrenpoint Town and boss Kearney admits there are “no easy games” in the Irish League.
“It’s a tricky opening month to the season but it was always going to be the case,” said Kearney. “It’s a common cliché, but there are no easy games in the Irish League and each fixture provides its own level of toughness.
“Stangmore is a tough place to go and we lost 4-0 there last season.
“Cliftonville will be eager to get a good start under Barry Gray and Crusaders are Crusaders.
“There is a lot of hard work and preparation to do before then.”
Coleraine – who finished third in the Danske Bank Premiership last season – will have home advantage on Boxing Day and the New Year fixture in which Kearney says is “vitally important” to the club.
“Those are the two games you look out for,” said Kearney. “It is good financially for the club and they are vitally important as they attract huge crowds.
“Obviously the Boxing Day fixture reverses itself every year and it’s great to have it at The Showgrounds this time around and Linfield always bring a big support.”
Coleraine didn’t have a league opener last season due to Portadown’s off-the-field issues but Kearney is looking forward to the opening clash on August 12 against Dungannon Swifts.
“It was a very strange start to the season last year, but that’s in the past,” he said. “Once August comes around it will be nice to kick off and provide a buzz for everyone at the club.”