Former Derry manager John Brennan had cause to regret Patsy Bradley’s absence from the midfield sector for protracted spells because of injury problems.
The 28-year-old powerhouse invariably brings spectacular aerial ability, flint-hard physicality and a sharp work-rate to the middle third of the park — things that the Oak Leaf side lacked over lengthy spells spanning the past couple of years.
Now Bradley is hoping to make up for lost time when he lines out with Slaughtneil against Ballinderry in the county championship final on Sunday at Celtic Park.
In recent weeks, his stamina, power and leadership have been very much in evidence as Slaughtneil have laid down a marker that the county crown could be within their compass.
It was in the semi-final win over Kilrea, achieved after a replay, that Bradley provided further proof, if it were needed, that he is the axis of a Slaughtneil side anxious to replicate their title coup of eight years ago.
Subsequently beaten by Ballinderry in the 2008 decider, their desire to bring home the bacon on Sunday is palpable with Bradley perhaps best epitomising their ambition.
“We have been knocking on the door of another championship win but now we want to make sure and go the distance.
“Ballinderry are a very experienced team but we will focus strongly on our own game and try and make our scoring chances count,” states Bradley.
The clash of two teams both of which embody the traditional virtues of gaelic football has whetted appetites among the notoriously fickle neutral fans in Derry.
County PRO Chris McCann pinpoints what he believes could be fascinating cameos in a match that is attracting huge interest.
“I think the fact that Patsy Bradley and Enda Muldoon are likely to go head to head is a clash that people would like to see while you are going to have forwards of the quality of Conleith Gilligan, Collie Devlin, Chrissy Bradley and Sé McGuigan on view and this holds the promise of some fine finishing,” says McCann.
Patsy Bradley’s personal Ulster Championship campaign was restricted to a bit part against Donegal and he was in the Derry squad that lost to Longford in the qualifiers.
But his application in training since then and his passion for success has proved infectious within the Slaughtneil club.
“Patsy represents the heartbeat of the side,” insists McCann.
“He is a real dynamo, a player who will give it everything. I have no doubt in my mind that had Patsy been fully fit over the past couple of years or so you would have seen Derry achieve better results.
“He is a class player who to my mind leads by example and I expect him to do just that against Ballinderry on Sunday,” adds McCann.