National Cup Players Perspective

By now we are all familiar with the Bob Kerr Irish Senior Cup to be fair it has been around for years but as this year's competition gets underway on Saturday we are also seeing a new initiative the National Cup.

Whilst the Premier League sides contest the Bob Kerr, Section One sides will be pitting their talents against their counterparts in the other Unions for the first time. The competition sees clubs from as far apart as County Kerry to Sligo and Galway up against the second tiers of the NCU and North West.

I spoke to Woodvale's Simon Johnston for his views: "Love the idea, as do the other players at Woodvale. I can remember back to playing in the top section and really looked forward to the Irish Senior Cup, it always was something different. We are away to St. Johnston on Saturday and to be fair there is perhaps not the same sense of adventure about this one.

"That is purely because with the advent of the Ulster Shield we have played them a couple of times already. Hopefully we can get past them and put together a run in the competition. It is great to broaden your horizons and play outside your own league; to be honest I am hoping we win this and get an away draw, Kerry or one of the Dublin sides, there are some great grounds to play on down there.

"For me the only way that you can improve as a player is by challenging yourself against the best and I am confident there are some good sides in Leinster. I have always been one for innovation, be it power plays, coloured clothing whatever we should have been doing these things years ago. I believe we have to work on changing mindsets; sometimes I hear people complaining about having to go to Ballymena!

"I know a friend of mine travels maybe 90 minutes to play cricket in a league in England. I am progressive; indeed I happen to believe we should go the full way with early starts and have games beginning at 11AM.

"So All Ireland cricket, definitely it will be interesting to see how the younger guys deal with it, for me this is what the game is about, a challenge and a chance to prove yourself against your peers in another Union."

I certainly came away from that one with a sense that this is another competition that Woodvale have targeted to win. There are doubtless other views but I suspect this is exactly the sort of feedback the organisers want to hear. Now, please can the weather play its part?