Clubs in Wales and Northern Ireland are working together in their quest for Europa League progress.
Ballymena United, who have been drawn against NSI Runavik in their preliminary round tie, are playing two of the Welsh qualifiers, Cardiff Met and Barry Town United, in pre-season friendlies.
The students were up first and went down 1-0 in a hard fought match at the Dub, Queen’s University Playing Fields in Belfast.
Ballymena play Barry Town in Northern Ireland next Saturday (1pm).
That will be a quality experience for Barry. Ballymena finished second in the Northern Ireland League last season and were 17 points ahead of Cliftonville, the team Barry Town face in their Europa League preliminary round tie.
Cardiff Met lost to a first half penalty goal against Ballymena in Belfast with Cathair Friel scoring from the spot after 14 minutes.
Both sides had decent chances during a cagey match, but nobody else could find the back of the net.
Ballymena United face another Welsh side next Saturday afternoon when they host Barry Town United at Dixon Park, Ballyclare (1pm).
Barry Town have a home game against fellow JD Sports Welsh Premier League team The New Saints at Jenner Park on Tuesday (7.15pm).
Ballymena United Team: Ross Glendinning (Jordan Williamson 46), Jim Ervin (Andrew Burns 46), Kofi Balmer, Scot Whiteside, Tony Kane (Joshua Kelly 46), Shane McGinty, Declan Carville (Adam Lecky 68), Cathair Friel (Ryan Mayse 53), Jude Winchester, Steven McCullough, Adam Lecky (Fra Nolan 53).
Cardiff Met FC: Will Fuller, Guto Williams, Rhydian Morgan, Kyle McCarthy, Emlyn Lewis, Will Evans, Brad Woolridge (capt), Joel Edwards, Dan Spencer, Eliot Evans, Chris Baker. Subs: Alex Lang (gk), Liam Black, Tim Parker, Mathew Swindlehurst, Bradley Flay, Liam Warman, Dion Phillips.
Four Welsh Premier League clubs will be playing in Europe next season. Barry Town United have been drawn against Cliftonville from Northern Ireland in the Europa League preliminary stage.
Connah’s Quay Nomads enter the competition at the first qualifying round stage, while WPL champions The New Saints are in Uefa Champions League football.