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Scott Young: We need more like Eoin Bradley

Gaelic stars can raise the quality of our league... just ask Bradley

By Scott Young

Published 19/01/2016

Big game player: Eoin Bradley has shone as an Irish League and Gaelic footballer
Big game player: Eoin Bradley has shone as an Irish League and Gaelic footballer

Eoin Bradley isn't the first player to impress as an Irish League and Gaelic footballer and he shouldn't be the last.

I would like to see more players come into the Irish League from a different sporting background - particularly Gaelic games - and we should be open to welcoming them into the fold as we desperately want to improve the product and perhaps managers will not complain as much about a lack of players.

Several Gaelic players have showcased their talents in both codes including Niall Morgan, JP Gallagher, Ryan McCluskey, Shane McCabe, Johnny Lafferty, Sean O'Neill and Brian Neeson.

St John's forward Neeson is the Carrick Rangers stopper who has just returned to county duty with Antrim.

And when I was playing I can remember former Down GAA star Peter Withnell playing for Cliftonville.

Glenavon star 'Skinner' (Bradley) has done the business for Derry and Glenullin.

It has been proven that it can happen. I've always felt the Amateur League is a great recruitment area for top flight clubs with players like Joe Gormley coming through and our sides need to be exploring every avenue to bolster their squads.

Of course, there could be difficulties and tensions with Gaelic managers, and indeed Irish League bosses, demanding 100 per cent commitment but if a way could be found for players to showcase their talents in a different code then those athletes should be allowed the opportunity to do that.

Gaelic clubs have held a stranglehold on players but I think there's an argument that common sense should come into the equation and if someone has the talent they should be able to express that.

It really is up to the willingness of the Gaelic and football teams to be understanding and compromise.

In my experience as manager at Glentoran we had McCabe who regarded Gaelic games as a huge part of his life and I'm sure his family felt the same.

I didn't have any problems with Shane and I cannot remember a time when his Gaelic commitments became a hindrance to us at Glentoran.

I would have signed a player like Eoin in a heartbeat. With the greatest of respect to players, this is the Irish League - not La Liga or the Bundesliga - and first and foremost you want players who are 100 per cent committed and will give you everything. Eoin falls into that category.

He has all the physical attributes and skill and you would like to think there are another five or six boys like him who could shine in the Irish League.

The top clubs, including Cliftonville on Saturday, can't handle Eoin and his hat-trick against the Reds once again underlined his value to the Mourneview men.

Irish League players are part-time and have busy schedules but it has been proven that players like Eoin can prosper in both codes.

I think we've got to stop sitting on our hands and do something if we want to improve the league. Let's be pro-active and if something does not work, at least we have tried it.

If we want to bring more women and kids to Irish League games we've got to improve the product and more young Gaelic players should give our game a try.

Eoin is banging in goals and manager Gary Hamilton has even said he could have played in England. Players that gifted should be given a platform to perform on.

Belfast Telegraph

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