By Michael McMullan
EMMETT Bradley insists the Glen squad won’t be dealing in hype ahead of their All-Ireland final showdown with last year’s beaten finalists Kilmacud Crokes later this month.
Younger brother of goalkeeper Connlan, he was a relaxed figure as he trotted to the team bus after Sunday’s win over Maigh Cuilinn.
He wore an expression of satisfaction, but the excitement must be parked and insists there are improvements to be made in the days ahead.
“That’s for the fans and the club,” he said of the increase in colour and interest in the local community since winning a first Ulster title.
“They deserve that…they have given us an awful lot and are behind us every step of the way. For us as players, we just need to focus on getting our performance levels right for the Kilmacud game and that’s the only thing that will do.
“To me, it is no different from the Ulster final it is another game you have to go out and try to compete in and try and win. As you saw out there today, we are going to have to improve to give our best to give Kilmacud a challenge.”
Bradley, who is soon set to be wed, is content with the two weeks of preparation. However, while the extended break over Christmas was a change from their two-week cycle in Ulster, it’s something they have been used to.
The four Ulster Minor Championships the club won took place in the traditional December slot in the calendar, while the three u-21 titles they won in Creggan came in January.
“It was a different type of Christmas, but lads at underage level were used to that and that probably stood to us,” said Bradley, who captained their first minor winning team in 2011. Of their starting team on Sunday, 11 have experience of playing championship football at this time of year, albeit not in a game of this magnitude.
“It progresses and it is all relative to the age you are,” Bradley offers. “When you are 21 and playing in an Ulster u-21 competition, it is the biggest game in your career and likewise at minor level, so it is fairly similar.
“Malachy (O’Rourke) is brilliant at keeping our feet on the ground and the group are as well. We know when we are at our best, we know what makes us poor if we take our eye off the ball.”
Glen raced into a four-point lead before Maigh Cuilinn’s opening score in the 18th minute, but two Dessie Conneely frees and a point from Peter Cooke had the game back in the melting pot and Bradley was pleased how his side managed the game.
“A couple of errors swung the game for them a wee bit,” he said. “We got caught a couple of times for turnovers and the ref gave them a few frees in that gave them a huge bit of momentum.
“It is a great challenge and we had to ride it out and it is a great testament to our boys for seeing that through. We are really proud to be able to do that, but we have a massive amount of improvement to work on over the next few weeks going into the Kilmacud game.”