All three title hopefuls in the Danske Bank Women’s Premiership got their campaigns off to winning starts in Wednesday night’s curtain-raisers.
It was a significant moment in Northern Irish football with it being the first league football since early March, when sport across the nation was curtailed.
Linfield – hoping to win their fifth successive league title – started with a victory but were made to work by a stubborn Crusaders side, who held out until late in the second half.
Casey Howe was the Blues hero, breaking the deadlock with 75 minutes on the clock before adding a second eight minutes later.
There was another all-Belfast affair at Solitude where Glentoran – who finished last season’s campaign in third – registered a three-goal victory at Cliftonville.
Joely Andrews and Kerry Beattie put the Glens in control prior to the break before Jess Foy added a third with 20 minutes remaining to seal a convincing victory.
The big winners of the night were Sion Swifts – last season’s runners-up – who racked up a six-goal victory at Derry City.
Irish youth international Teegan Lynch struck twice earlier on for Tony McGinley’s side – twice assisted by Kerry Brown – either side of a goal from debutant Caitlin McGuinness, who was set-up by her sister Kirsty.
Both sisters – each signed from Linfield this summer – combined again for the fourth, the standout goal of the night, with Kirsty rocketing home her first Sion goal.
Kirsty turned provider once more for the fifth goal in the 75th minute with her corner headed home by Kelly Crompton, before Kirsty got her second and Sion’s sixth late on after once more combining with 17-year-old Caitlin.