By Michael McMullan
GLEN selector Johnny Bradley was impressed with how Ulster opponents Errigal Ciaran stood tall in the face of Carrickmore’s brave comeback in Sunday’s Tyrone decider.
Former Derry player Bradley, a highly-rated performance analyst, was also full of praise for the Glen squad who delivered back-to-back Derry championships in commanding style.
Glen host Errigal Ciaran at Celtic Park on Sunday week, a game set to be televised on TG4, as part of a double header that includes Glenullin’s intermediate clash with Galbally.
The Glen management team – led by former Errigal manager and player Malachy O’Rourke – have turned their attention to the Ulster scene.
“He is very proud of when he played and managed thet, but you know Malachy, how ultra-professional he is and he will just get down to nuts and bolts of it,” Bradley said of the Glen boss taking on Errigal.
He also commented on the quality of the Tyrone decider and the competitive nature of the race to take home the O’Neill Cup.
“The games are on a real knife-edge,” he said. “Errigal Ciaran showed their experience and the experience of their players.
“Through that team, they have serious inter-county experience and they’ve had their inter-county experience back for the last while in the latter stages of the league and into the championship,” Bradley said of the Errigal squad that includes Darragh Canavan, Peter Harte, Darragh McAnenly, Niall Kelly and Ben McDonnell from the Red Hands’ 2021 All-Ireland winning squad.
“That experience really stood to them midway through the second half, when the questions were asked they certainly answered them.”
Apart from Conor McDevitt and Ciaran McFaul, both out of the country, Glen had a full squad to pick from as the Derry championship went down the stretch.
Now that the dust is settled on a second every senior title, Bradley admits to realising how much the club’s current senior crop have achieved.
“When it comes to championship football, it is a different level, but you do have a serious belief in the players and realise how much potential the boys have,” heaping praise at trainer Ryan Porter and the group for being in tip top shape.
“It is just great to see certain individuals coming back from injuries, some boys have had a really tough couple of years and to come back and play in the championship is really good,” Bradley added.
He referenced the club’s former Ulster minor winning captain Cathal Mulholland battling back to score the clinching goal in their win over Sleacht Néill.
Connor Carville limped out of their extra-time defeat to Kilcoo last year, with Stevie O’Hara and Conor Gallagher also battling their way back from persistent injury problems.
“He is determination and commitment personified, to be fair to him,” Bradley said of Mulholland’s journey back.
“These boys have had serious setbacks in terms of injuries, but they show serious adversity to come back. It just shows how much they want it and they want to play for Glen. It is absolutely brilliant and when you have Ryan (Porter) to advise them what to do,” Bradley said.
While Glen could only watch on as Kilcoo took home the Ulster and All-Ireland titles, their three games – against St Eunan’s, Scotstown and Kilcoo – will be valuable experience going into next week’s final week of preparation for the Ulster Championship.
“When you come into Ulster, teams are going well. They have won
their county championship and anything is possible on the day,” Bradley said.
“It is the nature of this time of the year and with the quality of the teams that are there. Hopefully that (last year’s Ulster run) will stand to us.”