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Coulter: Kerry display wasn't good enough

Published 20/03/2013

By Kevin Hughes

DOWN stalwart Benny Coulter was glad to see the back of Tralee on Saturday evening following an under-par team performance that plunges the Mournemen into a three-way tie with Kerry and Mayo at the bottom of Division Two.

It's 19 years since Down last beat Kerry in the League and, while the visitors were buoyed by a two-point victory over Mayo and a solid performance against Cork, momentum was sorely lacking for this one.

With just one point scored in the first 35 minutes, Down eventually woke up in the second half but it proved too little, too late, and Kerry could afford the luxury of a second half penalty miss in a three-point victory.

A downbeat Coulter didn't mince his words after the encounter.

"We were laboured, we were lazy, slow and sluggish," he said.

"That was terrible, probably the worst half of football I've been involved in this last five or six years".

"It boils down to a few things that didn't go our way before the game. We lost Dan (McCartan) 10 minutes beforehand and Aidan Carr picked up an injury too.

"They've both got great experience and have been playing well for us the last three or four games so it left us a bit quiet at the back."

While Down outscored Kerry in the second half thanks to an opportunistic Donal O'Hare goal, the Mayobridge man said they had simply been left with too much to do.

"The lads showed a bit of character and stood up to it for the second-half but we can't give Kerry a seven-point lead at half-time and expect to win the game.

"We had four or five scoring chances in the first half and didn't take them if we'd gone in three or four down instead of seven it would have given us a better chance."

Asked about Down's rising star Donal O'Hare, who was the Mournemen's top scorer on the night (1-2), the 30-year-old hinted that the torch had passed.

"My days are numbered by the looks of things," he said with a smile, adding: "You can put that in the paper if you want."

"Donal is a good lad and he'll be about in football for the next 10 or 12 years. He missed a few frees in the first half but he'll get them next day, there's no doubt about that."

Questioned on the opposition, Coulter said Kerry are written off at your peril and feels there's still plenty left in the tank despite losing their opening four League games with an average of just eight points per game.

"Kerry are still a good side, they'll have 'the Gooch' (Colm Cooper) back and (Paul) Galvin starting over the next couple of weeks and with Declan and Darran O'Sullivan and big 'Star' (Kieran Donaghy) they'll definitely be there or thereabouts come the end of the summer," he said.

"Big respect to them, they keep turning out even with a lot of All-Ireland medals in the back pocket. I've no doubt they'll be in the last four in the Championship."

As for Down's aspirations for the remainder of the League, Coulter said four points were the only target.

"We want to win our next two games to give us a big chance to stay in this division," he said.

"You want to be playing against the likes of the Kerrys and the Dublins and big boys like that and so we'll look forward to Dublin on Saturday night."