Club and county joy for Antrim boss Bradley
By the time the Antrim Management Committee conclude their review of Liam Bradley’s first year in charge of the county senior football team, their energetic manager may have taken another decisive step towards achieving another goal.
When he assumed command of the Saffrons towards the end of last year, Bradley made it abundantly clear that he would only consider players “who really want to play for the Antrim jersey.”
His success in mustering one of the most skilful, committed and purposeful sides in Antrim’s history was reflected in their promotion surge into Division Three of the National League, a dynamic journey through to the Ulster final and a heroic performance against Kerry in the All Ireland Qualifiers.
Now, far from basking in Antrim’s progress, Bradley is striving, along with Dermot McNicholl, to bring a second Derry senior county football championship title to his native Glenullin within three years.
It was in 2007 that Bradley was in sole charge when Glenullin, for whom his sons Eoin and Paddy are outstanding forwards, ended a 25-year famine by landing the Derry crown.
They now find themselves in the last four of the current title race in which they are scheduled to meet Dungiven. And assistant manager Bradley is providing an added dynamic in their glory bid.
Meantime, Antrim officials are ready to take stock of a championship campaign that saw saffron jerseys dominate the landscape throughout the county on the back of the team’s progress under Bradley.
His contribution to the Antrim cause cannot be over-stated.
For in his first year he has transformed Antrim footballers from also-rans into a side that challenged Tyrone in the Ulster final.
And it’s no wonder that county secretary Frankie Quinn had a mischievous smile on his face when he quipped: “I don’t think we will be rushing to replace Liam!”
Bradley was given the manager’s role for a three-year term and, as is customary in most counties, and the team’s and the manager’s performances are assessed year-on-year.
But unless there’s a seismic upheaval, Bradley will be at the helm again next year — perhaps even more fired up than ever.