Belfast Telegraph

Wednesday 1 October 2014

Liam Bradley fuming at error count

Race on: Fermanagh's Declan McClusker with Antrim's Ryan Murray
Race on: Fermanagh's Declan McClusker with Antrim's Ryan Murray

His team may have booked their place in the Ulster semi-final against Donegal but there is certainly no chance that Liam Bradley's feet will leave the ground.

Indeed, the Antrim manager was more than anxious to put things very much in perspective as soon as the final whistle sounded at Brewster Park, Enniskillen yesterday.

The concession of what he described as two "stupid" goals, below-par performances from some of his players and "borderline" decisions from referee Ciaran Branagan were just a few of the issues that clearly consumed Bradley's thinking in the aftermath of a game that almost slipped from his team's grasp.

"I cannot understand how we conceded two of the three goals. They were schoolboy errors and should not have happened. I'll tell you this – we certainly won't win against Donegal if we concede 3-13 as we did on this occasion," rapped Bradley.

"At the end of the day we were hanging in, but we knew it was going to be tough. In football a one-point victory is as good as a 20-point victory."

His team enjoyed 10-point advantages at two different stages of the game and this precipitated a succinct analysis of just how Fermanagh had been able to stage a recovery mission.

"Some of our players were not on their game and this is another lesson we have to take from this. You can't afford to take your foot off the pedal," he added.

"I still thought that we played some great stuff. We scored 2-18 and could have had more but we'll take what we have got."

Bradley, though, moved lavished praise on Brian Neeson and Kevin Niblock, the two players whose artistry and finishing skills illuminated Antrim's win.

"I have consistently said that Kevin Niblock is one of the best forwards in the country and he showed that again.

"And in any one on one situation in which Brian Neeson is involved, there is always only going to be the one winner. He emphasised just how good a player he is once again here and his finishing was just sublime," said Bradley.

Referee Branagan, who made a hesitant start to the match, subsequently incurred the wrath of both sets of supporters at different stages of the game and even the substantial comfort provided by an all-too-rare Ulster Championship win did not allow Bradley to be deflected from expressing his reservations.

"I can't see why a Down man was put in charge of the game," he said. "I thought several of his decisions were borderline to say the least and they seemed to go against us. I don't want this to be a criticism of him but that's the way I saw it."

And Bradley also expressed disappointment at how his team's prospects were downplayed.

"We were given no chance coming here. No one thought we had any hope of winning. But I knew that there is a great spirit within this side and they showed this. Having said that, we will have to up our game for Donegal.

"This is the first championship match that Antrim have won for some time and look what Donegal have achieved in that period. That shows us the enormity of the task facing us but we will be ready for it," stated Bradley.

And given the euphoria with which Antrim's win was greeted yesterday, there is now the real possibility that the side will enjoy huge support for their mission against Donegal – something that will particularly please Bradley.

"I am very pleased for the loyal Antrim supporters that we have won this game and now I would love to see even more get behind us for the game against Donegal.

"Antrim people deserve to share in a bit of success and we will certainly be doing our utmost to build on this win," declared Bradley.

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