Thursday 14 December 2017

High praise heaped on Benny

James McCartan conceded this Ulster quarter-final was a game his Down team might easily have lost as he heaped praise on star forward Benny Coulter.

McCartan admitted that without Coulter's goal in the second period of extra-time, the game would have got away from them.

"We had it going two points up in extra-time, but fair play to Donegal, they came back against the wind and drew level. And to be honest, with minutes to go they looked like the team that was going to kick on.

"We got a ball and scored a goal from it and maybe it was against the run of play. That won the game."

McCartan believes Coulter will want to reach higher in the weeks and months ahead than his star role yesterday.

"Benny does not want to be remembered for an outstanding performance in Ballybofey, he wants to be remembered for outstanding performances in Clones and Croke Park. He was fantastic, but hopefully we can kick on from here and so can he," he said.

McCartan was pleased with the character shown, but doesn't feel Tyrone will be too scared by what they saw.

"The boys showed a bit of character, but Tyrone are lying in wait and I'm sure we didn't scare anybody with that performance."

Coulter admitted he had grown weary of losing first-round games in Ulster.

"I just couldn't stand losing another one. When you get a wee bit older you start to look in front of you and realise there is not long left, maybe two or three years, and, at the end of the day, you do want to win something.

"You don't want to go through your whole career and win nothing. I've won a few medals with the club, but I want to win something with the county."

Donegal manager John Joe Doherty was adamant Donegal were forced to resort to handpassing because of the way Down had set themselves up.

"We kicked the ball long in the first half and we got a couple of goals out of it, but Down deliberately crowded out the back-line to prevent us kicking the ball long. It might have seemed that we were just handpassing the ball across the middle of the field; in reality that was the way it was panning out," he said.

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