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Return to Down isn't on Coulter's radar at present

By John Campbell

The notion that Benny Coulter is ready to sprint from the starting blocks to aid Down's cause has been dispelled by the player himself.

Having indicated recently that he might be prepared to don the famous red and black jersey again after calling time on his inter-county career in 2014, Coulter has been on the shopping list of new manager Eamonn Burns.

But far from burning the midnight oil in a renewed quest for a place in the side, Coulter is currently focused on a rather more different goal.

As manager of the Mayobridge Under-21 side, next Sunday's championship final against Clonduff is the only game on his radar.

And his anticipated return to the county arena will be at a measured pace rather than a sharp burst.

"I am doing a bit of gym work and I go out running quite often. I am nearing 34 years of age so I really don't need to be slogging it out at this time of year," revealed Coulter.

"It can get crazy with even some club sides getting together and having training sessions before Christmas - this is madness."

Never one to mince his words, Coulter has of course always been noted for bringing a healthy dose of reality to activities both on and off the field as much as he has been admired for his aerial power and sublime finishing.

The Ulster Council's Competitions Control Committee has drawn up the fixtures for the forthcoming Dr McKenna Cup competition.

And the second round of games on Sunday, January 10 throws up two of the most appetising with Derry set to host Tyrone at Owenbeg and Armagh travelling to Clones to face reigning Ulster champions Monaghan.

McKenna Cup fixtures: Jan 3: Rd 1 Section A: Derry V Antrim (Owenbeg), Tyrone V Queen's (Omagh). Section B: Donegal V Down at (Ballybofey), Fermanagh V St Mary's (Enniskillen) Section C: Armagh V Cavan (Crossmaglen), Monaghan V UUJ (Clones)

Jan 6: R 2: Section A: Antrim V Queens (QUB Arena) Jan 9: Rd 2 Section C: Cavan V UUJ (Kingspan Breffni Park) Jan 10: Rd 2 Section A: Derry V Tyrone at (Owenbeg). Section B: Donegal V St Marys (Letterkenny), Down V Fermanagh (Newry).Section C: Monaghan v Armagh (Clones)

Jan 13: Rd 3: Section A: Derry V Queens (Owenbeg), Tyrone v Antrim (Omagh). Section B: Down V St Marys (Newry), Fermanagh V Donegal (Enniskillen). Section C: Cavan V Monaghan (Kingspan Breffni Park), Armagh V UUJ (Athletic Grounds).

Jan 17: Semi-Finals: Section B Winner v Section A Winner, Best Runner-Up v Section C Winner. Jan 23: Final.

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