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Tyrone sensing end of era as Devine departs

By Kevin Kelly

Another member of Tyrone's first Sam Maguire Cup winning team has announced his retirement from Inter County football. Keeper John Devine informed Mickey Harte of his decision last night, the Tyrone manager a fellow Errigal Ciaran clubman.

John, whose side are the current senior club champions in Tyrone will continue his club career. The Armagh based school teacher has seen Edendork's Niall Morgan establish himself as the county's number one goalkeeper and there can be little doubt that played a role in his decision.

John had indicated back in November of 2012 that this would definitely be his last year with the county squad but the timing of his decision will have surprised a few coming as it has on the back of a fine win for Tyrone over Dublin in the weekend's National League fixture.

Since making his Senior debut in 2002 under Art McRory and Eugene McKenna, John has been an ever present member of the Senior County squad and has collected 3 All-Ireland Senior Football medals to add to an All-Ireland Minor success in 2001.

He has also collected two National league medals during that time in a distinguished career.

The big man is hugely popular with Tyrone supporters who will be very keen to thank him for the great service he has given to Tyrone over the past eleven years.

Devine's decision leaves the Red Hand county with just two goalkeepers Pascal Mc Connell and the current occupant of the number one jersey Niall Morgan.

Paying tribute to the retiring Devine, Mickey Harte said: "As well as being a top goalkeeper, John is a great person. He has had a tremendous presence within the squad and his influence will be missed. John was a vital part of all our All-Ireland successes and I wish him the best for the future as he continues his club career."

• PRIOR to a ball being kicked in the Allianz Football League veteran Down forward Benny Coulter acknowledged that there were many who doubted his county's status as one of the top eight teams in the country.

Ever the realist, the Mayobridge clubman conceded then that while the Mournemen have managed to retain their slot in the top tier since James McCartan took command, it was going to be "very tough to stay up with the big boys."

With five matches played, Down have just one win and currently find themselves propping up the table with Mayo and Kerry each of whom also have two points.

And to make matters worse, Down's injury woes have been compounded now that Daniel McCartan and Aidan Carr could be out of the reckoning for the showdown with the Dubs who will clearly be keen to return to winning ways following their hiccup against Tyrone on Saturday.

Coulter accepts that having had to go into the league without Ambrose Rogers, Dan Gordon, Liam Doyle and Daniel Hughes was a big burden

"We will see how things go over the course of this week but it's disappointing that our efforts have not brought us more reward," he maintains.

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