Monday 19 February 2018

Coulter adamant men from Mourne are here to stay

Ruaidhri O'Connor

Ruaidhri O'Connor

Benny Coulter has pledged that Down will return to the All-Ireland stage to complete the job they started this year.

The experienced forward endured plenty of heartbreak in the red and black before they reached Sunday's final, and the taste of the big day has simply whetted his appetite.

The Mayobridge star thoroughly enjoyed the Mourne men's qualifier run and, despite the disappointment of losing to Cork, he is already looking forward to getting back into it for next season.

"This year is not just going to be one year and that's it," he said. "This team will be back.

"They are good lads. All them lads are young, fresh and raring to go. They will be back. I'll be back. I can't wait to get back.

"We can't wait to get going. There are young lads, good lads and as I say they are mad to get back. We were beaten yesterday but there are good lads there. This team is not going to be (here) one year and go away.

"It is going to be a team that is there to stay.

"This year has been unbelievable. This team -- there is something about James (McCartan). He is a great man. We were beaten but we will be back again. James has something there within himself.

"Obviously we're not champions but if you had told me at the start of the year that we'd still be going in the third Sunday in September -- we're just delighted to get here."

Despite the heartbreak, Down midfielder Kalum King believes there are positives to be taken from the embers of their defeat to Cork.

In gaining promotion to Division 1 and reaching a first All-Ireland final in 16 years, the former cage fighter from Bryansford reckons there is plenty for his side to build on next year.


"Personally, I'm absolutely gutted and I know all the other guys are gutted," he said. "But this year has just been one great experience after another. After the Tyrone game we stared into the abyss and managed to pick ourselves up again.

"We beat Kerry and then Kildare with 60,000 people there. Unfortunately, Cork was just that one step too far but they have been there twice before and I'm sure that put them in great stead.

"We were in bonus territory but we will definitely be back and it is important that we consolidate our position next season. Hopefully, we will be able to get back to this sort of level again, be a bit more consistent.

"The fact that they had been there for two finals in the last three years helped. I know it must have been bitter for them but it probably made them stronger and it will make us stronger in the long run. We need the big games.

"We need to be playing against the likes of Cork and Kerry. We are in Division 1 next year and we need to be playing against those teams. Cork were knocking at the door for a few years and hopefully we can do that too. Maybe we can improve closer to home and contest for Ulster."

Cork's strength at midfield meant the previously impressive King had a subdued afternoon as Aidan Walsh and substitute Nicholas Murphy ruled the area with an iron fist in the second half.

"We were starting to get to grips at the end of the first half but they just had such a strong bench," King explained. "They brought on Nicholas Murphy and that is fresh legs. If you know you are only playing for a half it is easier to throw everything at it.

"They had that strength in depth. They played short kick-outs as well and we pushed up on them. Then they kicked them long and that wasn't something we had seen them do before.

"It was just one of those games where things didn't go for us on the day in midfield but we had done pretty well there up to then.

"Sometimes it just doesn't work for you and unfortunately that happened on All-Ireland final day. Maybe we didn't adapt as quickly as we should have but that is all ifs and buts now."

Irish Independent

Promoted Links

Sport Newsletter

The best sport action straight to your inbox every morning.

Promoted Links

Editor's Choice

Also in Sport