To Glenullin from Glens of Antrim
You could never imagine big Liam Bradley being idle for too long.
Antrim’s unforgettable championship odyssey may have run its course.
But their manager has never been busier working side by side with former All Star Dermot McNicholl in preparing his club Glenullin for a Derry championship quarter-final on Sunday week.
Glenullin represent everything that’s good about a club where the voluntary effort is paramount.
Two years ago Bradley was at the helm when the club lifted the Derry senior championship.
Now they are eyeing up another shot at the title though Dungiven, Ballinderry and Bellaghy all represent formidable opposition.
“I always enjoy working with the club. It’s something I’m well used to.
“The Derry championship is always very tight but I hope we’re there or thereabouts,” he said.
Gerard O’Kane, one of Derry’s most consistent performers in the championship, hasn’t played since being injured against Bellaghy in the league two weeks ago.
But some of the younger members are now pushing hard for places exerting pressure on some of the more established men.
Bradley will speak with the Antrim County Board to discuss
the best way forward for the Saffrons.
But it seems almost certain that he will bring the Antrim players together at the end of next month, providing them with a programme to work on in the weeks and months ahead.
“I would also hope to have a number of trials so that we don’t overlook anyone we might have missed out on this year.
“My priority is to unearth two or three new faces. There’s lads out there, 20 or 21, we might have missed and it’s also vital that we keep things as fresh as possible.
“Young Aaron Douglas of St John’s was on the bench for most of the summer but when he got his chance against Kerry he was absolutely outstanding.
“I just hope there are other players of his calibre who can come in and do a job.”
There’s always been a fierce rivalry between his native Derry and Tyrone, but come All Ireland semi-final day he will row in behind the All Ireland champions.
“From the moment I saw Cork in the Division Two league decider I was very impressed.
“They are the form team playing a high tempo brand of football.
“But if anyone can beat them it’s Tyrone. Their match against Cork will be mighty.
“Hopefully Tyrone can keep the northern flag flying and pull through, but it will be very, very tight,” he said.
The big Glenullin man deserves the highest praise for the manner in which he transformed Antrim footballers.
When he became manager they were at best also rans, languishing in the fourth division, the whipping boys of Ulster football.
Bradley on his own admission doesn’t suffer fools gladly and his no nonsense approach has paid huge dividends and augurs well for whatever 2010 brings.