There was much talk of the demise of local cricket after the North West's horror showing in the first round of the Ulster Cup this season however things have certainly been a little less traumatic after Bready and Donemana both survived to the semi finals to level it up numerically since.

To be fair, we know ourselves that the standard up here isn't what it was 20 years ago however let's be honest about this, we aren't alone in that regard.

Fair enough our colleagues in Leinster remain the hare for the hounds- they are by some way the largest union in terms of population and resources and they are better than the rest both on the club scene and at Interprovincial level at present.

There's just the feeling however that our buddies from over the Glenshane got a little bit carried away with their day of overwhelming dominance in the O'Neill's tournament. They've had the edge on the quality of professionals in the past few seasons, I'll give them that, but the make-up of the Knights' Interprovincial side is far from damning evidence of a plethora of home grown players banging the selectors' doors down.

There are now two North West and two NCU sides left in the last four of the Ulster Cup and (almost) a similar representation in the Irish Senior Cup and that is doubtless a truer reflection of the fact that there's nothing between us.

Both Unions are working hard in really difficult circumstances to develop their up-and-coming youngsters and that is what we should be focusing on. As one of my favourite cricket writers, Mr Walsh, pointed out recently, the fact that the entire Warriors team (bar the two allowable professionals) that played at Stormont this month were a by-product of the same school shows that THAT is where our standards will be set. The moral high ground is well and good so long as it doesn't fall away under your feet.

Another major talking point up in the sticks of late has been the issue of senior matches being played in midweek.

To their credit, fixture secretary Robin Glenn and Cricket Operations Director David Bradley have done a remarkable job this year in ensuring that so far they've had to go into midweek on less than a handful of occasions.

I've written the line a hundred times that in the North West, everyone wants to watch cricket during the week but no-one wants to play it. The bottom line however is that there are only a set amount of Saturdays and Sundays in the season so if the elements intervene, as they often do, there's going to be midweek cricket.

It is also the price of success of course and teams who do well in the cups are going to struggle as a result. As one of the people who often takes calls from irate club officials regarding midweek dates I would say only that midweek cricket is used as a very last resort.

We know it's not ideal but if you're asked to play, it's because there is no other option. Much better in that case that the two teams try to find something within the permitted 15 days if at all possible.


Finally for now it's a big weekend upcoming for both Coleraine and St Johnston who will be attempting to make it through to the semi finals of the Irish Senior Cup on Sunday albeit both have very difficult last-eight ties to negotiate first.

The Bannsiders have been badly out of sorts so far this season but notably they have reserved their better performances for the competitions they didn't win in 2013- this and the Danske Bank senior cup. It is a make-or-break 48 hours for Gordon Cooke's team with a trip to holders Donemana in the semi-final of the latter competition first up on their agenda.

The Saints are up against it even more as they head to Clontarf and the Donegal men say that their successes this year are based on the fact that he Macbeths, David and Ian, share the captaincy. One takes the armband for league matches and the other for cups, but don't ask me which is which.

Good luck to both this weekend as they try to fly the flag for the North West and good luck to two other people as well- the guy in Dublin who has to tell the Saints it's time to go home and the bus driver who has to get them there.

My money would be on Tuesday.