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Eamonn Burns opens the door to Down's veteran stars

By Declan Bogue

Published 07/11/2015

All-Star: Benny Coulter was unable to meet the demands of previous Down manager Jim McCrorry
All-Star: Benny Coulter was unable to meet the demands of previous Down manager Jim McCrorry

New Down manager Eamonn Burns has refused to rule out a sensational inter-county return for former All-Star, Benny Coulter in 2016.

It was widely publicised that Coulter was unable to meet the training demands of previous manager Jim McCorry, but under 1991 All-Ireland winning-midfielder Burns, every case will be taken on its' merits.

That could also mean a recall for other veterans Brendan McVeigh and Dan Gordon, while he will be hopeful of a return for Marty Clarke.

"Everybody comes with different demands and you have young players there who are maybe finishing up with college or maybe out of college and they don't have the same responsibilities," Burns told The Belfast Telegraph.

"Then you have lads at the end of their careers, they are married with kids. They are in good shape and playing good football, but it is just not as easy for them to make the same commitment to five nights a week.

"It's not something you can say a definite yes or no, you have to take everybody's situation into consideration.

"And you can see the pitfalls with that when you have young lads trying hard to get on to the team training five nights a week. And then you have others who for very genuine reasons, can't go every night, but are getting some game time… You can see how that can impact upon the team and upon the panel and the management team as well."

"It's a tricky one, and we need to look at it. I have spoke to the county chairman about this and it is something Down need to look at really, really hard and need to get a solution."

Burns was announced as the new Down manager on Thursday night, but as yet, he has not appointed anyone onto his backroom team. Despite their training ban being lifted on November 15th, the Technology and Design teacher insists he will take his time.

"Getting the backroom team is hugely important and we will take our time. It is important that you get the right team in around you," the Bryansford man explained.

"You have to be able to work with them and they have to be able to work with you. People need to come and bring something different, that we are not all looking at the same thing.

"I think it's important to have people coming at different angles, to make up a backroom team that is going to be attractive, that they will take the team and develop it.

"That's where we are at the minute."

Burns added that having managed at various levels on the club scene in the Mourne county, and serving as selector with James McCartan in 2013 and 2014, as well as running the county under-21 team alongside Jerome Johnston alongside that, he is aware of the talent in the county.

"I have watched a lot of Division One football. I have been involved in the Division Two league with Tullylish and I am aware of the players in Division Three," he said.

"I have to sit down with the county chairman and the management team and decide if we are drawing a panel up straight away, or going with a series of trials. Time is very short now, that could be a problem."

He also spoke of the pride he has in getting to manage the county he won two All-Irelands with, commenting, "I am under no illusions about the task in front of me.

"It's a massive job and I have a lot of work to do."

Belfast Telegraph

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