Coulter, left, challenges Garrick Ibbotson of Australia during the 2010 International Rules Series. ©INPHO/Ryan Byrne

Coulter remembers 'unbelievable' welcome from Jim Stynes

Jim Stynes always went above and beyond to welcome the Irish International Rules squad when they were down under, says Benny Coulter.

BENNY COULTER HAS many fond memories of landing in Australia for his first International Rules test in 2003 and the warm welcome which he got from one man in particular — Jim Stynes.

At Tuesday’s state funeral in Melbourne, friends and family spoke movingly of the lasting impact which the Dublin-born Aussie Rules giant had on their lives up until his death from cancer at the age of 45 last week.

Stynes was one of the most vocal supporters of the International Rules series between his native Ireland and his adopted home of Australia, representing both countries and serving as one of Australia’s selectors under his close friend and former team-mate Garry Lyon.

Coulter travelled down under on three occasions with the Irish squad and Down’s All-Star forward paid tribute today to a man who always went the extra mile for him and his team-mates when they were away from home.

“I met Jim in Melbourne twice when we were there and he was unbelievable to us,” Coulter told

“He was the first man over and he always knew who you were. I went out in 2003, I was only a 20-year-old and he knew who you were when he was talking to you.

“We met up for meals the Wednesday or Tuesday night before tests and Jimmy was always in amongst us, talking to the Irish lads. Even though he was a selector the first year under Garry Lyon, he always had plenty of time for the Irish lads.

It was amazing what he went through and how hard he fought. He’s a legend in this country and I’m sure over in Australia, he’s an even bigger legend.

Goodbye, Jim: Thousands turn out for Stynes’ state funeral in Melbourne

WATCH: Melbourne bids farewell to Irish legend Stynes