All-Ireland U20 ‘B’ success a boost for Down says joint-boss Coulter

By Niall Gartland

ALL-IRELAND titles don’t grow on trees so Down u-20 joint-manager Neil Coulter says that their Tier Two success should be appreciated by the Mourne County.

They came out on top of a close-fought encounter against Westmeath last Saturday, ensuring Down football’s first All-Ireland title of any description since landing minors honours back in 1999.

So while there won’t be any open-top buses or supplements in local papers, Coulter, who manages the side alongside Paul McCartan, says their win shouldn’t be sniffed at.

The Burren clubman said: “It’s good for Down football to have any success or title at any level. It’s basically a building process and hopefully three or four lads on our team will be called into the seniors.”

When Down bowed out of the provincial race, it would’ve been easy for their players to down tools at the prospect of the newly introduced ‘B’ competition, but the vast majority of their squad decided to give it a proper rattle.

“A couple of boys walked away when we bowed out of Ulster, but everyone else stuck together. They had the best of both worlds, they were back playing with their clubs on a Friday night and were with us on a Monday so it worked out well.”

He continued: “Boys need football and we appreciate that, there’s no point in lads training all the time and not getting any football. So it worked out well, the club managers appreciated that we didn’t put any restrictions on their players.”

Another factor in their success was the impact of their subs, particularly in their All-Ireland semi-final and final wins over Mayo and Westmeath respectively.

“It was our subs who got us over the line against Mayo last week and it was the same again in the final. That’s what we really drilled home to our players, that it’s a squad game.

“Even the boys who didn’t get on, they’d a really important part to play in training and they stuck together which was great and I’m just glad for everyone that they’ve got medals at the end of it all.”

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