Friday 13 December 2019

Benny Coulter calls time on outstanding Down career

Brendan Coulter will always be recognised as a real flair forward in a county which has produced more than its fair share of them. Picture credit: Dire Brennan / SPORTSFILE
Brendan Coulter will always be recognised as a real flair forward in a county which has produced more than its fair share of them. Picture credit: Dire Brennan / SPORTSFILE

Cliona Foley

DOWN ace Benny Coulter has become the latest inter-county player to hang up his boots.

The Mayobridge star admitted he was retiring "with a heavy heart" but said that, after 15 seasons, "the time has come to allow a younger breed of Down footballer the chance to make their mark."

Coulter, 32, will always be recognised as a real flair forward in a county which has produced more than its fair share of them. Two-footed with a fantastic ability to hang in the air, he scored a record 18 championship goals for his county.

Yet despite winning an All-Ireland minor medal in 1999 (when he lined out at midfield) and making his inter-county senior debut against Antrim the same summer, Ulster senior and All-Ireland medals escaped him.

The closest he got was 2010 when he captained the Mournes to the All-Ireland final where they were pipped by Cork. He said yesterday: "I will always regret that that we failed to deliver on the day."

His consolation that season was his only All Star award, while he remained a regular for Ulster and the Irish International team throughout his career.

Coulter thanked all of the Down senior managers he hadsworked with, starting with Peter McGrath, Paddy O'Rourke, Ross Carr and DJ Kane and most recently James McCartan, to whom he said he was "indebted for the support he gave me in (his) five years. I had played with James and it was an absolute honour to have worked with him as manager."

New Down manager Jim McCorry is believed to have been keen to keep Coulter involved but his loss is mitigated by Marty Clarke and Caolan Mooney's recent return from Aussie Rules.

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Elsewhere the way has been cleared for Ballinderry's appeals against the heavy bans that their players received after the Derry SFC final to be heard in the next fortnight.

There is big interest in the outcome, particularly regarding Aaron Devlin's appeal against his one-year ban for comments he made on Twitter, which is regarded as a real test-case.

Ballinderry sought clarification from the Derry board on several matters relating to the county final and, having discussed them last weekend, will now go ahead with their appeals.

In Kildare former Allstar and ex-Carlow manager Anthony Rainbow has joined the back-room of beaten county finalists Sarsfields.

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