New Derry u-20 manager Bradley to let bygones be bygones

NEW Derry u-20 manager Paddy Bradley says he’s more than happy to get back involved after setting aside his disappointment of being dropped from the intercounty panel back in 2010.

Bradley, who remains the all-time leading scorer in Ulster Senior Football Championship, reversed his decision to walk away from the squad before retiring a couple of years later due to injury.

The episode still left a bitter taste, but it’s all water under the bridge now and he can’t wait to try his hand at managing a promising Derry u-20 team.

He was sounded out about the vacant Antrim management position when Lenny Harbinson resigned after three years in charge, but home is where the heart is for the Glenullin man.

A few weeks ago I’d been contacted about letting my name go forward for the Antrim job so I had to weigh things up.

Antrim’s a great county and I’d been involved there before, and I’d taken a step back from Derry after being dropped in whatever year it was.

However, I’ve sort of got over the disappointment of being dropped – there’s a whole change-up around Owenbeg and I’ve been keen to get back involved with the county.

I knew the job was going to be available. I’d spoken briefly to people around the county board level and they wondered if I was going to be interested.

It appealed to me to get involved with the current group of players. They’re doing really well at schools level, and Lavey, Magherafelt and Bellaghy have had very successful minor teams, so they’re a good group of players with a chance of achieving something.”

Bradley brings with him 1993 All-Ireland winner Johnny McGurk, and Derry’s Games Development Officer Chris Collins remains involved having being part of Mickey Donnelly’s management team over the last three years.

He said: “I know Johnny very well and have great admiration for him as a player. He knows the age group he’s dealing with given his involvement with Lavey and the Convent. I work with Kevin Brady at the Loup and Kevin speaks very highly of him.

Chris was there under Mickey and knows the players and Owenbeg and is a very good coach.

It’s a short season and there won’t be much time to get to know players. It’s hard to know how things will pan out with the restrictions but it’s great to have people on board who know the landscape well.”

There’s been talk that the clubs will be out in action first in 2021, with a final decision to be taken by Central Council this month. Bradley hopes that they won’t change the established order of things.

I don’t know how it’s going to work if the clubs are out first given the quality of club pitches and the fact they haven’t had a pre-season. At the least the county players have been out playing so they’d be geared up to go again.

County pitches would be better fit to hold matches but I suppose the decision is for the hierarchy in Dublin to take.”

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