The plug has been pulled on this year’s Ulster Cup because there is no sponsor and fixture pressure.

The competition, due to have been held in the North West on August 5, would have involved Waringstown and North Down, the two NCU T20 finalists, and their equivalent in the North West, Bready and Brigade, who meet in the Faughan Valley Cup final at Glendermott on Sunday.

But the money from O’Neill’s, who have been the long-term sponsors of the competition - well before it became a T20 competition last season -has been, according to a North West spokesman, “diverted to other resources” by Cricket Ireland and as the hosts this year the North West union decided it could not afford to run the competition.

It seems there was little appetite from either Union to continue the competition, and the financial hit on top of a fixture jigsaw meant the NW were pushing an opening door when they suggested the end of the tournament which began in 1999.

A NW statement said: "The loss of the Ulster Cup and Shield competitions in their current format is, at least in the North West, almost exclusively down to the pressure of the current domestic schedule.

"The fact is that there are now a lot more demands on clubs, players and officials both within the Union and also at representative levels across the age spectrum, right up to senior Inter-provincials.

"The NWCU is also keen to oversee the growth of T20 club cricket both at local level and hopefully on the national stage as well, and there simply wasn't the scope to accommodate everything within the available time-frame.

"We are obviously very happy that the Ulster Plate competition will be retained by our Qualifying League teams and no doubt there will be discussions to be had regarding future inter-provincial competition between clubs at senior level."

The NCU said: "The appetite amongst the clubs for the two competitions appears to have diminished, expense being cited as one reason. In 2017 neither of the two NCU clubs who reached the finals day of the Ulster Shield were prepared to travel to the North West, with Holywood stepping in at the last minute.

"Unfortunately we have seen the same trend in the National Cup with half the eligible NCU clubs deciding not to participate due to the cost of some of the longer journeys.

"The Ulster Plate has continued has normal in 2018 with 2nd XI’s in both unions keen to participate."

North West clubs won four of the last five editions of the 40 over competition but Waringstown beat Bready in the first T20 final last season at Comber before going on to lose in the final of the All-Ireland Twenty20 to Clontarf.

All-Ireland T20 finals day will take place again this year between the four provincial winners, ironically in the North West – paid for by Cricket Ireland – on Saturday August 18.