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Bradley hitting form to boost Oak Leaf quest

 

By John Campbell

In a month during which fresh-faced newcomers are bidding to become the future pin-ups of the Ulster GAA scene, Derry manager Damian McErlain has reason to be grateful that some of his more seasoned performers have already risen to the formidable challenge of striving to regain a measure of credibility for the county.

And while Ben McCarron, Eoghan Concannon, Sean Quinn, Eamon Magill and Padraig Cassidy are among those who look capable of restoring lost pride, Emmet Bradley is perhaps the player who has done most to get the Oak Leaf side into the Bank of Ireland Dr McKenna Cup semi-finals in which they will renew their rivalry with Tyrone on Sunday at the Athletic Grounds, Armagh (2.00pm).

While a platoon of inter-county players have had the opportunity to put their feet up in recent weeks, Bradley has been toiling diligently at the coal face as he provides the inspiration for what is viewed as an overdue Derry renaissance.

Statistics do not always tell the full story but Bradley's 1-6 in the win against Ulster University on Wednesday night, which followed on from his 0-3 against Fermanagh and the brace of points he snapped up in their opening day loss to Tyrone, hint at someone who is seemingly hauling Derry up off their knees single-handedly.

Yet with the irrepressible Bradley and his Glen club colleague Colm McFaul pulling the strings, Derry racked up 1-20 against Ulster University to clinch the last available semi-final place as best group runners-up overall.

So with Bradley firing on all cylinders the Oak Leafers can take considerable encouragement going forward.

Manager McErlain believes the renewal of rivalry with a Tyrone side that have proven their masters rather too often in the recent past is viewed as a timely challenge.

"The two wins we have had over Fermanagh and Ulster University have helped to give us a bit of momentum at this point in time and we have to try and build on this now if we can," insists McErlain.

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