Derry shock as Bradley walks out after axe
Paddy Bradley has quit the Derry panel after being dropped from the team for today's All-Ireland qualifier with Carlow.
When contacted yesterday, Bradley declined to comment, but well-placed sources within the camp have confirmed that he will not be on the team-sheet today.
It's believed the prolific former All Star forward was told at training on Thursday night he would not be in the starting line-up.
He then left Owenbeg and will not travel with the squad to Dr Cullen Park for the first round qualifier with Luke Dempsey's Barrowsiders.
Bradley had recently been quoted as saying he was considering his future beyond the end of this season, a story which manager Damian Cassidy said had been “taken out of context”.
Cassidy last night denied that Bradley has left the squad.
The news comes almost a year to the week when Bradley left the Derry panel before their qualifier with Monaghan, when he cited personal reasons for his decision to quit, but was talked into returning to score 2-8 against the Farneymen.
Bradley is the Ulster Championship's all-time record scorer and has been one of the country's top marksmen since he joined the Derry panel in 2000, at the age of 19.
He famously earned a spot in the starting line up for that year's Ulster final by telling the great Eamon Coleman that he was the best forward in the county.
And for most of the past decade, he's lived up to that mark. Seventeen goals and 193 points in Derry colours have seen him go past the likes of Peter Canavan, Oisin McConville, Paddy Doherty and Peter Donohue to top the all-time Ulster scorers' list.
However, he has struggled with injury over the past couple of years. He missed the start of this year's National League campaign and was subdued during Derry's Championship defeat to Armagh at Celtic Park in May.
Bradley's decision leaves Cassidy with a real selection headache.
He is already without Patsy Bradley and Michael Bateson, and serious doubts hang over Fergal Doherty, Gerard O'Kane and Barry McGuigan.
It's believed that Bradley's decision will not affect the participation of his brother, Eoin, who will remain as part of the team and travel to Carlow.
But the news does represent a massive blow to Derry's hopes of building a run through the Qualifiers, as they have done to good effect on three occasions this decade, reaching All-Ireland semi-finals in 2001 and 2004, and a quarter-final in 2007.
While the starting 15 was not publicly announced, it is believed that Enda Muldoon and Charlie Kielt are available for selection after recovering from injury while hurling star Ruairi Convery has also been called into squad for the crunch tie.