Ulster Shield shambles
The new-look Ulster T20 finals day will make its debut this Sunday with the Cup competition taking place in the NCU and the Shield in the North West.
Comber will host the Premiership final with the winners of the North Down v Bready semi-final taking on the winners of Waringstown v Coleraine (whuch is being played at Saintfield).
So far that all looks hunky dory but it hasn't quite been such plain sailing in the Shield competition.
The original plan was to have St Johnston play Armagh and Strabane take on Woodvale however the latter pulled out early in the piece and were replaced by Holywood.
It now appears however that Armagh won't be travelling either and with no others available to step in, the whole thing looks very lopsided.
This is in no way intended to be critical of either club but rather reiterate again the problems incurred by a lot of teams below Premiership level. This is Armagh's second 'no show' in the North West in the space of a few months and yet it looks like organisers are happy to sweep it under the carpet and hope they get home draws next sesson.
Just to be clear here, this piece isn't about Armagh. We've had several "no shows" even between our own North West clubs in the T20 competition in recent times and it is symptomatic of what teams feel about the current format.
Generally speaking the Ulster Cup and to a lesser extent the Shield faded out because players didn't want to be travelling on a Sunday.
In years gone by the Ulster competitions were inexplicably scheduled on the same weekend as the All- Ireland, often meaning teams having to keep hold of their minibus for an extra day.
These, remember are players with families and most of them with jobs to go to on a Monday morning.
I realise that this is something of a trial run at a T20 version and in principle it seemed like a good idea, however when I personally heard the first rumblings of this new format it was mooted that there may well be prize money attached. That was certainly the perception with the forthcoming All Ireland T20 day, which will feature the regional T20 winners.
Prize money isn't necessarily the answer but at least if clubs were afforded the expenses to take part in these T20 days it would be a start.
At the moment we have the regional finalists going into the Ulster T20 day and the regional winners also going to the All-Ireland finals, all seemingly at their own expense. It's a lot to ask of clubs, many of whom are already struggling.
T20 has very quickly become a huge part of our sport and there needs to be room for it on the domestic, regional and national programme.
Like every other T20 competition around the globe however it has to be appealing to sponsors, spectators and most importantly, the people who play in it.
It would seem that there are already a couple of votes in regarding the new version.