Down have been dealt a major blow with the news that star player Benny Coulter is quitting inter-county football.
Coulter is regarded as one of the Mourne county's top performers and his retirement at 32 will be a huge setback for new manager Jim McCorry.
The Mayobridge forward has been dogged by injuries in recent years but he led Down in the 2010 All-Ireland final when they lost to Cork by one point.
Coulter made his senior inter-county debut in 2000.
A year earlier, he played in the Down Minor side which won the All-Ireland.
Coulter earned international honours by playing for Ireland in International Rules games against Australia in 2003, 2004, 2005, 2006 and 2008.
At interprovincial level, he was in the Ulster side which won the Railway Cup in 2003, 2007, 2009 and 2012.
He received a coveted All-Star award in 2010.
On Monday, Coulter said he was leaving with a heavy heart but felt it was time for younger players to be brought through.
He added that he would continue to play for his club Mayobridge.
"I wish the present Down panel and manager Jim McCorry every success in the season ahead, those boys are like my brothers and I will be supporting them fully throughout the year ahead," said Coulter.