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Lack of interest may lead to Ulster Shield being axed

 

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Kevin Pretorius hit the last ball of the super over for two after Strabane had tied with St Johnston on 156

Kevin Pretorius hit the last ball of the super over for two after Strabane had tied with St Johnston on 156

Kevin Pretorius hit the last ball of the super over for two after Strabane had tied with St Johnston on 156

The future of the Ulster Shield is in doubt following the apathy of clubs last week to take part in last Sunday's Finals Day. At the start of the season, Section One clubs were asked if they wanted the Ulster Shield to continue in its previous format - the top eight in both unions playing each other in a 40-over knock-out competition - change the competition to a T20 format or scrap the tournament, already under pressure because of fixture congestion.

The feedback from the clubs, according to tournament organiser Roger Bell, was that a T20 tournament was the preferred option with the finalists in the NCU and North West competitions going through to Ulster semi-finals, followed immediately by the final.

With the Ulster Cup equivalent taking place in the NCU, the North West was confirmed as the venue for the Shield but within 24 hours of Armagh beating Woodvale in the NCU final, both teams had pulled out of Finals Day.

Armagh have since claimed that they were one of the clubs who had wanted the Ulster competition scrapped and Woodvale could not get enough players interested in making the trip to Strabane.

Holywood was the only club in either union prepared to step in as a replacement team.

Now, the questionnaire is certain to be handed out again ahead of next season and only clubs committed to Finals Day - which would be in the NCU - will be invited to take part, if that is even the majority view.

And after this season, that seems most unlikely.

For those spectators that turned up at Strabane Park on Sunday, they were treated to a thrilling final with Kevin Pretorius hitting the last ball of the super over for two after the hosts had tied with St Johnston on 156.

The trophy went some way to making up for the disappointment of Strabane's National Cup semi-final defeat by Terenure on Saturday, and it will be an all-Leinster final at Bready on Sunday, September 3 as Malahide hammered Derriaghy by 10 wickets in the other last-four game in the competition.

The other trophy winners at the weekend were Donaghcloney Mill II - although they actually lost the Intermediate Cup showpiece to Carrickfergus II!

Unfortunately for Carrick - and secretary Glen Graham, who hit the 'winning runs' in their four-wicket victory at The Meadow - 16-year-old Luca Johnston was ineligible, having joined the club from Academy on June 19. The deadline for cup competitions is May 31.

Johnston only made his Second XI league debut the previous week and, after impressing in that game, retained his place for the final.

He did not take a wicket and did not bat.

Belfast Telegraph