DOWNPATRICK will drop down one section in the NCU Senior League next year, the union has confirmed.

It was the request of the famous Strangford Road club that they be demoted because, faced with a number of senior players leaving the club, they would be unable to field a competitive side in Section One.

Following several rounds of discussions between Downpatrick and the NCU’s Domestic Cricket Directorate, it has been agreed that the club will play in Section Two next season.

The club have also advised the union that they will be unable to field a 2nd XI next year, which is a devastating outcome for a side which won the Intermediate Cup as recently as 2015.

The club also won the equivalent of today’s Premier League six times, the last in 1994 and three years later were Challenge Cup winners.

They also won the Irish Senior Cup in 1985 and 1991. Taking Downpatrick’s place in Section One will be Bangor, who finished ninth in the last full season, of league action, 2019 and have been given a reprieve from the drop.

The Seasiders seem sure to be in the second tier for the 2022 season as well because one of the proposals at this year’s NCU annual meeting is that there will be no relegation between any senior sections next year.

If passed at next month’s NCU annual meeting, the Premier League will revert to a 10-team league in 2022 with the top two in Section One joining next year’s top eight and the top two in Section Two will promoted to the 10-team Section One the year after next.

The other 12 senior teams would be merged into Section Two, playing each other once and, after a split, the top six would play each other for a second time to decide the Section Two placings, with the bottom six playing another five games for the Section Three title.