Ulster Council dynamo Michael Hasson has welcomed the introduction of the new Ulster Club under-21 Football Championship.
The Rasharkin man believes that the tournament will bring a new dimension to the overall fixtures calendar at this level.
The draw for the competition has already been made and although somewhat unwieldy because the title-winners in four counties have still to be determined, the expectation is that it will provide a platform for under-21 talent to flourish.
“This will prove a worthwhile outlet for the under-21 sector at club level in the province,” said Hasson.
“The new competition will help to stimulate more interest and the clubs have been showing great enthusiasm. No doubt the outcome of those county championships still to be decided will now be awaited with considerable interest.”
Creggan Kickhams will host the event and chairman Tony McCollum is convinced the championship will help to fill the void between Minor and Senior level.
“Sometimes players find themselves in a limbo situation when they are striving to make the step-up,” said McCollum.
“We believe this competition as it is envisaged will prove a valuable stepping stone in players’ careers.
“We will be pulling out all the stops to ensure that this inaugural competition proves a success so that it will become a significant event in the overall fixtures calendar in the future.”
In a preliminary round tie, Crossmaglen Rangers, the Armagh champions, will confront either Belcoo or Tempo who are due to contest the Fermanagh under-21 final shortly. Rangers have a strong pedigree at under-21 level and will be among the favourites to land the inaugural provincial title.
Spokesman Tom McKay says: “We are always supportive of any initiative that offers a fresh challenge to players and we will be approaching this new competition with optimism.”
The other first round games will be: Foreglen (Derry) v Donegal champions, Creggan Kickhams (Antrim) v Burren or Longstone (Down), Scotstown (Monaghan) v Omagh St Enda’s (Tyrone), Cavan champions v Crossmaglen Rangers or Fermanagh champions.