Armagh count the cost as forward Declan Coulter transfers to Donegal
ARMAGH must get used to life without one of their main men following Declan Coulter’s inter-county transfer to Nicky Rackard Cup rivals Donegal.
The Cuchullain’s forward has been a mainstay of the Orchard side for over a decade and played a key role as Armagh won promotion to Division 2A of the National Hurling League last year.
However, having set up home in Donegal, school teacher Coulter has decided to hurl for the Tir Chonaill men, who begin their Division 3A campaign against Louth on Sunday.
Armagh boss Sylvester McConnell is understandably disappointed to lose such a talented player but said they had to “take it on the chin and move on”.
“He’s a massive loss,” said McConnell, who open up at home to Kildare on Sunday.
“It would’ve been lovely to go out with a Nicky Rackard medal with him on the team [Armagh lost to Mayo in the 2016 final] and playing in this league, playing at a higher level, we would’ve liked to have retained Declan for another year.
“But, from a practical point of view, he has a new-born child, he has said he’s going to settle his roots down there so at some stage he was going to have to move - there was no getting away from it.
“But we would’ve liked to have kept him this year.”
Although they are separated by two divisions in the league, it won’t be long until Coulter locks horns with his native county as Armagh face Donegal in the first round of the Nicky Rackard Cup on April 22.
McConnell continued: “Declan was hoping we’d win the Nicky Rackard last year and then we wouldn’t have been running against Donegal.
“He probably had one of his best years ever in an Armagh jersey last year and it would have been good for us to keep him.
“But Declan has made a decision, sometimes you have to make a decision and sometimes there’s more to life than hurling. He’s a massive loss but we have to take it on the chin and move on from it.
“Sport’s the same as work – you’re always replaceable no matter how good a job you do. We’ll look forward to the challenge of meeting him again down the line.”
Although it is a major blow for Armagh, Coulter’s transfer is a significant boost to a Donegal panel that has lost a number of players from last year.
Ciaran Matthewson, Mark Gallagher, Sean McVeigh, Christopher McDermott, Paddy Hannigan and Paul Sheridan are among those who won’t be available for the Tir Chonaill, although they have drafted in Tipperary native Gavin Flynn.
And boss Ardal McDermott hopes Coulter can help full the void left by those who have departed.
He said: “From last year, we have 18 of that panel remaining, a number of starting players have gone from last year’s team for one reason or another.
“There’s a huge void of talent that has left so to get the like of Declan in to fill that void is huge for us.
“The standard of player that he is and the standard of commitment he gives is really excellent.”