Benny Coulter has been ruled out of Down’s championship campaign after suffering a suspected broken ankle on Monday night.
The 2010 All Star forward sustained a serious injury while playing for his club Mayobridge in a league match against Bryansford. Down boss James McCartan last night confirmed Coulter is definitely ruled out of the Ulster championship opener against Fermanagh on June 3.
Further tests will be carried out later this week to determine to extent of the injury, but McCartan believes it is a break, rather than ligament damage.
He also fears Dan Gordon will also miss out with the ankle injury he picked up in the Division One match against Laois a month ago.
“If there was two men you wouldn’t want to be without, it’s those two,’’ admitted McCartan. “Benny’s injury is serious. To the exact extent we’re not sure but it’s looking like a break.
“We would dearly love to have Benny Coulter playing for us but we will need to have an extended stay in the championship for him to make an appearance.’’
McCartan was speaking at the launch of the Ulster senior football championship in the Titanic suite in Belfast last night.
It would be unfair to say Down’s Ulster title hopes are sinking faster than the famous ship with the loss of two hugely influential players – but it certainly gives Fermanagh the upper hand for their championship clash in Brewster Park next month.
After lining up for a photograph alongside Peter Canavan, McCartan quipped: ‘‘I was just telling Peter the bad news but he thinks I’m pulling his chain.’’
One piece of good news is that Danny Hughes will be fit following a hamstring injury.
However Gordon’s ankle injury sustained against Laois is proving more troublesome: ‘‘Dan has the famous metatarsal injury, which is notoriously hard to cure,’’ McCartan said.
‘‘It’s looking like we could be without him for the Fermanagh match too.
‘‘It’s a huge blow to us to lose Benny and Dan but some other members of the panel are going to have to step up and fill big shoes.’’
Meanwhile, Derry defender Gerard O’Kane has confirmed he will be available for Derry’s championship game against Donegal or Cavan on June 17.
He suffered a knee injury in training in early March, which ruled him out of the remainder of the Allianz league campaign.
‘‘It’s looking like I will be ok, I hope to get two or three club games in before we play Donegal or Cavan so it’s a big relief,’’ he said.
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