Former Down hurling All Star nominee to sit out NHL campaign - 16/01/03

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Veteran inter-county hurler Noel Sands may have played his last match for the Mourne county. The former All-Star nominee and three-times Ulster championship winner will sit out Down's forthcoming National Hurling League campaign, and has no firm plans to wear the 'red and black' jersey again.

However, Mourne team-manager Jimmy O'Reilly has left the door open to the 34 year-old in case he has a change of heart, and wants to return for the Ulster championship. O'Reilly confirmed that he would bring the Portaferry player back on board later in the year if he so wishes especially in light of Tom Coulter, Barry Coulter and Paddy Monan's respective retirements from the inter-county scene. With basically a young squad at present, Noel Sands experience would be badly needed.

Jimmy O'Reilly regards this coming season as his most challenging one since taking over the post of Down team-manager four years ago. He hopes their inclusion in the Walsh Cup in Leinster next week will provide the youthful panel with some much-needed experience against quality sides. "It is the only they will learn and give the management some idea of their real potential,'' he added. Down play Wexford in a challenge game on Saturday, and the following day (Sunday) they are away to Dublin in the Walsh Cup competition.

A busy week-end ahead for the Mourne county hurlers who are eagerly looking forward to the new season.

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