New setback may spell the end for Derry’s Paddy Bradley
Derry’s Paddy Bradley doesn't know whether he will have the drive to overcome a second cruciate ligament operation and play football again.
The 31-year-old sustained the injury, his second cruciate rupture in 18 months, last week and on Monday his surgeon advised him that he would require an operation at the end of October.
Now Bradley is uncertain about what the future holds for him.
“I know it's possible for me to return, even for next year's Ulster championship, but only if I do everything right. Whether I have the drive for that, I just can't say right now,” he admitted.
Bradley was back in time for this year's league having ruptured his right cruciate in a club league game the previous April.
“I did everything right with my rehabilitation the last time. It can turn your life upside down. I was in the gym most mornings before I went to school.
“But now I have two children and I have changed teaching jobs, which has given me more responsibility. I can't really say if I can give my recovery everything required to be back to where I was,” he said.
Bradley admitted that putting extra pressure on his 'good' knee to compensate may have led to last week's mishap. “It was a combination of a twist and a collision at club training, but maybe there has been more strain on the knee than normal. I don't know.”
Bradley is the latest player to sustain a second cruciate tear within a short space of time after completing his initial recovery.
Limerick's John Galvin is battling his way back after a second operation within 13 months, while Kildare's Dermot Earley also returned after suffering complications in 2011.
Bradley admitted there would have been no guarantees anyway that he would be part of Brian McIver's plans in the new year.
“That's the other thing. Brian is talking in terms of a five-year plan and that's obviously going to involve a lot of change,” he said.
Meanwhile, three of the most important trophies which the GAA can offer currently reside in Ulster — and already a major drive to keep them here has been initiated.
Earlier this year Crossmaglen Rangers won the All-Ireland club football title while Loughgiel collected the All-Ireland club hurling prize for just the second time in their history.
And Donegal, of course, have now been crowned All-Ireland football champions, thus making 2012 a memorable year for the province.
But Loughgiel manager PJ O’Mullan, in the throes of preparing his team for their Antrim championship final against Dunloy at Casement Park on Saturday night, is anxious that they should strike another major blow for Ulster hurling on the national stage by retaining their All-Ireland accolade.
“I think this is the real challenge for us,” says O’Mullan.
“We don’t want to be seen as one-hit wonders.
“It’s all very well winning Antrim and Ulster titles but you have to prove yourself on the All-Ireland stage before you are really accepted as the real deal.”