Coulter slates Spillane criticism

As Down prepare themselves for a second Championship battle with Derry in five weeks, Benny Coulter has slammed Pat Spillane’s criticism of his team following their Ulster semi-final defeat by Donegal.

Coulter, who also believes that expecting Down to travel to Celtic Park again is “totally unfair”, was incensed with the former Kerry great’s Sunday Game take on why Donegal prevailed in Breffni Park last Sunday week.

Spillane claimed Down had gone out with the wrong system, a declaration the veteran Mourne County forward wholeheartedly rejects.

“Pat Spillane said we didn’t get our tactics right. That was wrong — we got our tactics spot-on. We just didn’t finish our scores. We did everything right in defence, it worked for us.

“He just doesn’t analyse the game and says what he wants to say and it’s p***ing a lot of people off.

“You look at Paddy Bradley or Oisín McConville on BBC and they’re analysing the game. Maybe Spillane and them need to take a bit of a look at what they are doing!”

Coulter doesn’t mind strong words but only if they are justified. “I can take criticism, no bother. I’ve had a couple of poor games but that’s just me. If you want to criticised us show what we didn’t get right.”

The Sunday Game has shipped a lot of negative comments this year in its level of analysis, something Coulter has recognised especially among players and managers in Ulster.

“Everybody’s complaining about it. I always used to watch RTÉ for the (Ulster) games but now I switch over to BBC and look at them there.

“Mickey Harte and Tyrone have complained about it and Paul Grimley had a go at Joe Brolly on Sunday.

“As I said, we can take criticism but it has to be backed up but it’s just seems to be a one-way thing at the moment.”

Down met up for the first time last night since their narrow defeat to Donegal 10 days ago and Coulter is frustrated they must again face the four-hour return trip to Celtic Park on Saturday, having beaten Brian McIver’s side there in last month’s cracker.

“It’s totally unfair, the fact we’ve already played them away and beat them. They (the GAA) should have given the teams that won their games in the provinces the opportunity to play at home.

“I’m disappointed we have to go to Celtic Park again. Everything is going in favour of Derry at the minute. It’s not ideal but we have just to have to get it into our heads that it’s a game that has to be won.”

However, Coulter, busy organising the Elverys youth camp in Down this week , admits Derry may be flummoxed by what style the visitors will adapt having put the shackles on Donegal after operating a more expansive game in Celtic Park.

“James (McCartan) will tell us what way he wants us to play and it’s good now that we adapt to what’s put in front of us. It’s also good Derry won’t know what way we’re going to play.”

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