Benny Coulter has admitted that Down’s All-Ireland final loss to Cork in 2010 is the great regret of his career which will "eat me up until I go to my grave".
The former All Star attacker confirmed his retirement on Monday and expanded yesterday on the reasons why he called it a day.
He said he could have taken the “easy option” and stayed on as a 33-year-old next year but claimed that talented young players deserve the opportunity to be promoted by new boss Jim McCorry.
The Mayobridge club man revealed that he doesn’t plan on being away from the Down senior team for too long though, with firm plans to manage the Mourne side.
McCorry has just taken over from James McCartan who was in charge for five seasons though Coulter, currently in charge of his club’s U21 team, fancies the job himself further down the line.
He believes that by returning to manage Down, he can go some way to making up for the spirit-crushing one-point final defeat to Cork four years ago.
“I missed the big medal in 2010, we came so close against Cork,” said Coulter. “It eats me up. It’ll eat me up until I go to my grave.
“Some players don’t get to play in finals so you can look at it two ways, you did get to experience playing in an All-Ireland final. But unfortunately we didn’t do it in 2010 and, as I say, it eats at me. I’ll take that to my grave.
“I was beaten in two Ulster finals with my club in the early 2000s too so when you look back at that, there’s been a lot of disappointments, Ulster finals, the All-Ireland final.
“But definitely the biggest one is the All-Ireland final in 2010. Who knows, maybe in 10 or 12 years, I might be back there at some stage managing the team.
“I would love that and I would definitely always rank that as something I would want to do. I didn’t do it as a player, couldn’t do it, but you know the next best thing is trying to get back and do it as a manager.
“There’s no doubt in my mind that I have the things in my head to get that in place in years to come and hopefully that might happen.”
Down struggled under McCartan since the 2010 breakthrough, only advancing beyond the qualifiers once and losing to Mayo heavily in the All-Ireland quarter-finals of 2012.
This year’s Championship ended with a 10-point loss to Kildare, though prolific goal poacher Coulter is upbeat about the immediate future under McCorry.
Down will welcome back Coulter’s 2010 final colleague Marty Clarke from Australian Rules football along with 21-year old Caolan Mooney, who is also home from Australia.
“Down are in a great position,” said Coulter. “They have Jim in as manager. They have a whole new backroom team and strength and conditioning staff. It probably would have been an easy option for me to hang about and stay on and win things with them but you have to let the new lads at it.
“There’s great young talent coming through. They’re in Division 2 and will probably go into that as favourites to win Division 2.
“They’ve a tough Championship draw but definitely in your first year with a new manager, everyone gets a lift. I’ve no doubt Jim will do well with Down this year.
“From top to bottom, Down are in a good place at the minute. They also have the boys back from Australia.”
Coulter was speaking to Q Radio and new manager McCorry told the station that the full-forward, whom he handed a club championship debut to in the 1990s, received heavy treatment from defenders throughout his career.
“Totally committed and quality players always get special attention and he has received a lot of special attention over the years with double teaming and a lot of physicality that has maybe taken its toll,” said McCorry.
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