Last month I penned an article about the current 'crisis' facing the club scene (in cricket that is) throughout the North West.

It was a fairly difficult piece to write because, as alluded to at the time, I felt very much part of the group whose job it is to oversee the growth of the game in our corner of the country.

There was a lot of feedback from that article- some of it complimentary and just as much of it anything but.

In time honoured tradition therefore I had a good chat with a few friends in the latter camp and am now happy to address what might be seen as their balance.

I don't think it's fair to name individuals at this point, however it does make sense to use some direct quotes as to how that conversation went.

Basically, the Union feels that they have used every ounce of energy they have in presenting clubs with the opportunity to help themselves.

They completely refute any suggestion that they have stood back and let these things unfold, and wouldn't you just know that they had evidence to back up their theory.

In fact they had several examples of how clubs can not just survive but actually thrive with the right application and dedication.

There are 30 or more kids turning up to youth practice on a regular basis at Eglinton, Ardmore, Bready, Coleraine and St Johnston among others.

You could point to Ardmore's under-11's and under-13's; their midweek side and three Saturday teams and the fact that they're now using their second field for youth cricket.

There has been talk of current struggles at Strabane and yet the amount of work ongoing there and the development that is now well under way at the Park gets little or no recognition.

For exhibit 'A' however Your Honour, we have been asked to present Bonds Glen.

A club that may be miles from anywhere and gives a new meaning to rural, but that boasts an under-11, an under-13 and an under-15 team as well as a midweek and two Saturday sides.

So how come the Bee Gees can flourish when clubs with a huge advantage in terms of demographic are holding on by fingertips?

According to the Union they have simply bought into the principles that the NWCU has been working on for the past five years.

"For two full decades the North West did little in terms of youth development and we've been reaping the rewards of that for some time."

"We began addressing it in earnest a few years ago and have invested upwards of 100,000 in giving clubs a chance by helping themselves."

"Obviously we needed clubs to buy into that and part of the sacrifice was that they would have to focus on more than just the first team."

"We provided endless opportunities for clubs to have their own coaches trained up- all paid for by the way- and provide a route into club cricket for those youngsters coming in at the development stage."

"Some, like Bonds Glen looked at the bigger picture. Others unfortunately only had eyes for the 1st XI and when you do that, bringing through talent of your own will always be difficult.'

"The Board and various committees are gutted at the thought of losing clubs but it is so frustrating to continually spend time sending out offers of help and not even receive an acknowledgement back."

"In particular we were really sorry to lose Creevedonnell most recently. Their committee really did battle hard in difficult circumstances and we gratefully acknowledge Brian's comments that the NWCU did everything asked of us to help them."

One of the suggestions in my original article was that the Union could do more to help clubs source and apply for grants and other funding.

It appears that didn't go down well either.

"We assisted clubs to source funding of a combined 40,000 in the past 12 months. Every club was prompted to apply for this help. Only half of them did, and the ones who did, got."

Can't really argue that one!

From a Union perspective there are still many battles to be fought but the success or failure will be determined largely by clubs' vision of longevity.

The NWCU will it says continue to support and nurture those who are in it for the long haul.

At this point we agreed on one of our first courses of action for 2019. One of the main objectives this summer will be to create a pathway for non-senior first XI's to compete against each other rather than simply make up numbers in leagues where they don't always fit.

It might be a year too late for Creevedonnell but the prospect of a new phase of competition might just provide a buffer for some that are struggling.

Because as it stands it seems that to some degree at least the problems are two-way.

There is no doubt, and there never was, that clubs need to do their bit to try to arrest the slump.

The Union stance is that clubs are fully entitled to use their resources to employ players but unless it is done in tandem with a meaningful development programme there will only ever be one outcome.

And they refuse to accept the blame for that.