Benny Coulter last night joined the list of high profile inter-county players to announce their retirement in recent weeks, admitting it is with "a heavy heart" that he has called time on his 15-year career with Down.
Despite playing the role of impact sub under James McCartan this year, the 32-year-old had hinted he may play on for at least one more season under new manager Jim McCorry, particularly with Marty Clarke and Caolan Mooney returning from the AFL to strengthen their side.
However the 2010 All Star forward has instead decided to end his long association with the Mourne county, which began in 1999 when he won an All-Ireland minor title while also playing for the senior side in the same year.
Coulter said: “I have enjoyed immensely my time as an inter-county footballer. But after 16 seasons I have decided that the time has come to allow a younger breed of Down footballer the chance to make their mark.”
Coulter’s stint in the red and black of Down ends without an Ulster senior football title.
The one-point defeat to Cork in the 2010 All-Ireland final was the closest he came to championship silverware, admitting he will “always regret we failed to deliver on the day”.
While thanking all the managers he played under and the supporters who lifted his spirits, he praised James McCartan for his support in the five years he was manager.
“I played with James and it was an absolute honour to have worked with him as manager.
“I wish the present Down panel and manager Jim McCorry every success in the season ahead. Those boys are like my brothers and I will be supporting them fully throughout the year ahead.”
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