Belfast Telegraph

Sunday 21 December 2014

Bradley’s pleads with Antrim players to delay big decisions

Antrim manager Liam Bradley has urged his players to make “no rash decisions” in relation to their futures with the county squad in the wake of the All-Ireland qualifier defeat by Tipperary.

The Saffrons had been expected to advance to the fourth round of the competition, but Peter Creedon’s reinvigorated side triumphed by 0-10 to 0-8 in Thurles, thus bringing the curtain down on their visitors’ season.

Bradley, four years in charge of the Saffrons, is keen that every member of the squad should remain on board.

“I have told the players that they must not rush into anything and should make no rash decisions,” he said.

“It’s time for us all to contemplate what we should do. We were beaten by a better team in Tipperary and we can’t argue about that.

“We will maybe get together in a month’s time and see where we go from there.”

Bradley took the side to the Ulster final in 2009 and has since restructured the squad — although the defections of Paddy Cunningham and Aodhan Gallagher just recently stripped the side of a strong core of experience.

“We have to respect the fact that some players made decisions in relation to their involvement in the squad. It’s time to try and move on, although it would have been nice to have been still in the qualifiers,” adds Bradley.

Kevin Niblock is now based in Belfast again having been studying in England and he is looking for a teaching post here.

Conor Murray and Mark Sweeney are two players who have made a big impression in the side while veteran Kevin Brady, who made his debut some 14 years ago, showed that he has lost none of his skills by scoring a point against Tipperary and generally proving difficult to mark.

One of the most encouraging aspects of Antrim’s resources is the form of the talented Johnston brothers Martin and Ricky from the Creggan Kickhams club.

The duo have matured into top-class defenders, with 18-year-old Martin displaying considerable maturity in the centre-half-back position while Ricky has made the full-back position his own.

They bring steel and strength to a unit that still benefits from the work-rate of Tony Scullion, the skill of James Loughrey and power of Justin Crozier.

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