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Ulster Championship: Eoin Bradley set to fill brother Paddy’s boots for Derry title tilt

By John Campbell

Eoin Bradley is preparing to step up to the plate for Derry in the Ulster Championship now that his brother Paddy has been ruled out of the bid to land what would be a first title in 13 years.

Having served a suspension and then suffered an injury, Eoin is likely to be handed a key role in the Oak Leaf attack when Fermanagh are visitors to Celtic Park next month.

A proven finisher, Eoin Bradley (pictured) will bring his skills to the table just as Derry boss John Brennan contemplates his championship line-up.

Since Derry last won the provincial crown in 1998, every other Ulster county has appeared in the decider except the Oak Leafers — and that’s a statistic that rankles with their fans.

Derry of course won the National League crown three years ago when they beat Kerry in the final at Parnell Park but there is a deep yearning for championship success within the county.

Eoin Bradley will now join players like Mark Lynch, Sean Leo McGoldrick, Conleith Gilligan, Declan Mullan and Caolan O’Boyle in a Derry attack from which much will be expected in the Ulster series.

PJ McCloskey and Michael Friel are expected to again form the midfield partnership and while manager Brennan is disappointed that a cruciate ligament injury sustained in a club game last weekend will deprive him of Paddy Bradley’s vast experience and scoring power he is nonetheless confident that his other players can now rise to what will be a demanding challenge.

“While we were disappointed that we did not get promotion in the league, we know that all teams are invariably judged on how they perform in the championship.

“The fact that we are at home against Fermanagh will not bestow any great advantage on us and we have to be up for this game,” insists Brennan.

Indeed, Derry have been beaten at home in the Ulster Championship by Monaghan and Armagh in the last two years and it was these defeats that contributed to the parting of the ways with previous boss Damian Cassidy.

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