BY CHRIS MCNULTY
FORMER Antrim manager Liam Bradley has been appointed as the new Malin manager – and believes that the Inishowen club should set the bar high in 2015.
Shockwaves rippled through Donegal early this week when news emerged that the Glenullin, County Derry native had been selected as the new Malin boss.
Malin have been in the Donegal SFC since 2004 and reached the semi-finals for the first time ever in 2013, losing out to Killybegs, after lowering the colours of then champions St Eunan’s at the quarter-final phase. Malin failed to advance from their SFC group in 2014, but retained their Senior Championship status and survived in Division 1 of the All-County League.
Bradley takes over from Terence Colhoun, who had three years at the helm, and he insists that he isn’t heading for Connolly Park to take in the scenery.
“Malin aren’t too far away,” Bradley told the Donegal News.
“To me, they’d be classed in the top five or six teams, genuinely. They have made massive strides in the last few years and they should be there or thereabouts.
“I think all they’re missing is that wee bit of extra drive and urgency. There is more in Malin and I hope that I’m the man to take it out of them.
“They’ve got a great squad. Declan Walsh and Stephen McLaughlin have been about the Donegal squad and the Byrne boys are fine players too.
“Malin are one of the teams in Donegal who can win a Championship. It has been unheard of for an Inishowen team to win the Donegal Championship, or even talk about it, but why not?
“There is so much more interest in Gaelic football in Inishowen now than there had been. It has been a big soccer era but the success of the Jim McGuinness era in Donegal has brought about the increased interest. Malin, as a club, have made massive strides and seeing the boys up with Donegal will inspire the young fellas too.”
‘Baker’ had two spells as the Antrim manager. He famously guided the Saffrons to the 2009 Ulster final, shocking Donegal in Ballybofey along the way, in his first year in charge. He departed in 2012, but returned for the 2014 campaign. Antrim lost to Donegal in the Ulster semi-final before being beaten by Limerick in the qualifiers and Bradley resigned in September.
He has had spells as manager of Glenullin, Claudy and Banagher, but will now spearhead Malin’s bid to take on the established names in Donegal.
Bradley will be aided by John McLaughlin and Robert Farren. Based in Claudy, Bradley says that commuting won’t be an issue.
He said: “It’s a challenge for me, but I’m going into this with my eyes opened. I have researched the Malin club, their players and what they’re about. You couldn’t be going into a job like this with the eyes closed.
“I’m not going up into Inishowen for the fun of it. It’s not too bad of a drive for me either – I’ll not be needing the helicopter that some boys think I do anyway!
“Malin want to move forward and they picked me to try to make progress. I’ll be trying to take them over the line and to make an impression up there.
“They reached the semi-final of the Championship in 2013 and lost to Killybegs, a game they felt that they should have won. They beat the fancied St Eunan’s team in the quarter-finals and that year is still hurting them.”
He is the father of Eoin and Paddy Bradley. Last year, Paddy was a part of Kevin Cassidy’s backroom team at Gaoth Dobhair. During the year, Bradley senior took in some games in Donegal. Having been critical of Donegal’s style during his time at Antrim, Bradley saw the club scene closer last year – and will be at the coalface of it from March when the League season is expected to get underway.
He said: “The Donegal Championship is fairly intense, especially when it gets to the quarter-final stage. Anyone that gets to the last eight in Donegal could win the thing outright. The success of Slaughtneil in Ulster this year has shown teams what they can achieve with that wee bit of effort and drive.”
A date for the Donegal SFC draw has yet to be confirmed by the new CCC, but it is expected to take place next month.
A host of new bosses are expected to be in place by then with Kilcar also selecting a new man last Saturday night. Michael Molloy has been confirmed as manager, 16 years after his last stint in charge at Towney. With Rory Gallagher leaving the post to become the new Donegal manager, Kilcar man Molloy will fill the void.
John McNulty had been joint manager with Gallagher and he continues as the club’s under-21 boss.
Michael Canning is tipped to get fill the void at 2014 county finalists Glenswilly, with Four Masters and Gaoth Dobhair also on the hunt for new managers, following the departures of Emlyn Hughes and Kevin Cassidy respectively, while Ardara (John McConnell), Naomh Conaill (Martin Regan junior) and Killybegs (Mark Boyle) will be under the guidance of new managers this year.
Tony Boyle will again be at the helm in Dungloe and Liam Ward has been joined by Pat Campbell at Glenfin. Campbell is a Glenfin native who worked with Ardara in 2014.
Another side on the hunt for a new manager is Termon, after Daireann Gibson confirmed his intentions to step away because of work commitments.