The eagerly awaited Danske Bank Women’s Premiership 2021 season kicked off on Wednesday evening with all six top-flight sides in action.
Glentoran began their defence of the league title with a hard-fought victory at home to Belfast rivals Crusaders, but the title favourites had to wait over an hour to break the deadlock.
Teenage midfielder Danielle Maxwell – one of the league’s multiple Northern Ireland international stars – opened the scoring in the 65th minute with a finish at the back post.
Last year’s runners-up Linfield got off to an impressive start with a comfortable 3-0 victory at home to Sion Swifts Ladies with striker Alison Smyth netting a brace.
Smyth’s close-range effort broke the deadlock six minutes before the break and she won and converted a penalty just after the hour mark, with Sion goalkeeper Denise McElhinney unfortunately getting the final touch from a Blues corner five minutes prior with the hosts in full control.
John McGrady’s Cliftonville were comfortable four-goal victors at Derry City Women as captain Marissa Callaghan and her Northern Ireland international teammate Caitlin McGuinness among the scorers.
Callaghan open the scoring in the 13th minute by rounding Candystripes goalkeeper Clare Friel, before 18-year-old McGuinness netted on her debut after joining from Sion Swifts.
Caitlin’s sister Kirsty emerged as a second half substitute and she was the provided for Naimh Connolly adding a third five minutes after the break, before Connolly bagged her and second and the Reds’ fourth on the hour mark.