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Saffrons looking for a more attack-minded approach

By Declan Bogue

The similarities, when you consider it, are striking. Both were the main men as free-taking forwards for Jordanstown. Both carried their respective counties scoring burden for many years. Both men have a sweet left foot. Both are called Paddy.

Paddy Bradley, formerly of Derry but now added to the backroom team of his father Liam in Antrim, has even collaborated with the Saffrons forward Paddy Cunningham in their coaching venture; 'All-Star Coaching', last summer.

Now, Liam Bradley has promised that his All-Star son will pushing for an attack-minded Antrim as they begin to open their McKenna Cup campaign this weekend when Cavan come to visit their new bijou residence of Creggan tomorrow

Cunningham hardly needs to remind us of how horribly negative Antrim had become in 2013 when he says, "I would hope during the McKenna Cup we would be a bit more attacking. Maybe over the last season we were maybe over-defensive in the way we were playing. Paddy will have a look at our attacking game and by the end of the month hopefully we will see that."

Cunningham finished as Antrim's most prolific scorer in 2013 with a 0-33 total, something he has grown accustomed to, but he knows that the younger Bradley's expertise as a forward is something he can learn from.

"It's great to have a young man about there," enthuses Cunningham.

"He is only recently retired, he knows the game inside-out, he has been there he's done it and he knows how to handle himself. I have to say his training is very good.

"The great thing about it is Paddy can relate to the players as he is not long out of football at that level."

Antrim may not be able to call on the services of Aodhan Gallagher for the coming season, but in recent weeks Cunningham has noted how many big men there are in the squad with Mick McCann, Sean McVeigh and Niall McKeever all in the same panel for the first time.

While competition for midfield spots will be tight, Cunningham is envisaging the possibility of Mick McCann reprising the role he had in 2009 as a targetman on the edge of the square.

"It's definitely increased competition for midfield but not all of them can play there," he says.

He added: "It gives you another option if you do have a big man in there. You have to see how teams set up and I suppose it is early days yet to see what our gameplan is going to be. That will all unravel throughout the year."

In the meantime, they have a new manager (sort of) and a new home in Creggan, a venue they have been using for training purposes for years, in store for Cavan.

"They have their crop of under-21s coming through and they are making a big difference," Cunningham says of the Breffnimen.

"We are all trying and playing for our places on the National League panel.

"So I am sure it will be a competitive game."

Belfast Telegraph


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