Experience is key for Coulter
Tuesday, 24 December 2013
DOWN star Benny Coulter expects manager James McCartan to select a reasonably experienced squad to compete in the Dr McKenna Cup, considering most of the young players brought in last season will be playing with their Universities.
Coulter is keen to get back into the thick of the action and Down team-mate Aidan Carr is another looking to increase his game-time having missed the majority of last season through injury.
“I didn't play a lot of football last year," said Carr.
“ I tore my quads in March and that knocked me out 10 weeks and when I went back to me club we didn't have a great year and it was a bit haphazard so I am really trying to get as much
game-time between now and the National League and get fitter so I have a running start ahead of everyone else."
And the Clonduff club-man reflected on last season's disappointed but he believes Down are in a stronger position that last year, especially after the McKenna Cup has concluded.
“We carried a lot of knocks last year and we threw it away against Cork, which probably was a big turning point for us, because it was the last kick of the game, and if we had have hung on then we would still be in Division One," Carr said.
“And we met Kerry when they started to go on a run and we played Dublin when they were flying so we found it hard to get the results, so we were unlucky in that respect.
“We didn't do ourselves a lot of favours in the league, which left us playing catch up.
“Hopefully if we get all the boys back from the knocks we will definitely have a stronger squad. We have a few boys that made their debut last season, the likes of Jerome Johnston, Danny Savage and Niall Madine, them boys will be better for having played last year," Carr added.
“This year is going to be massive because Division Two is never any easier.
“I suppose fitness wise we have a stronger squad it is just that we have to start building soon because we don't really have a handy run in the Ulster Championship."
Ballymartin's Peter Fitzpatrick can be a huge player for Down this season. Having returned from Australia he is an athletic strong midfielder who can pick off scores.
Ambrose Rogers may be held back until the National League, though Kalumn King and Benny McArdle are expected to feature in the McKenna Cup.
Mayobridge's Conor Garvey is fit again after missing last season, and with his club-mate Michael Lively and Kilcoo's young Niall Morgan expected to be included in the squad, Benny Coulter believes Down have a stronger defence than last year.
“We need defenders, Niall Morgan from Kilcoo and Michael Lively from Mayobridge are out and out defenders," Coulter said.
“We have probably tried to play boys in half back lines who play forwards for their clubs but we need to stick with defenders.
“With Dan McCartan back, Garvey and Ambrose and new boys coming in we have more back up than we did last year."
And Coulter wants to stake his place in the Down team.
“I am hoping to get in for the first game but I honestly don't know what James' plans are," he said.
“I want to be included in the McKenna Cup squad and I am not sure of I'll be held back for the National League or not, but if I am in the McKenna Cup squad I'll definitely be pushing for a starting position.
“We are back in the gym flat out and boys are back at the pitch this past four or five weeks and they will be at the pace needed to play McKenna Cup."
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