Mark Bradley to miss Tyrone's opening SFC Qualifier
TYRONE have been dealt a blow with the news that key attacker Mark Bradley is set for a spell on the sideline after injuring his ankle in the early stages of their Ulster Championship defeat by Monaghan last Sunday.
The Killyclogher clubman had an MRI scan in Belfast on Monday and met up with Tyrone physio Louis O’Connor yesterday when it was confirmed that he has damaged medial and lateral ligaments.
It’s an injury that is set to keep him out for at least five weeks so he will miss out on Tyrone’s first Qualifier on the weekend of June 9 and also won’t be available for their next game should they progress.
“I went to make a tackle on a Monaghan defender inside the opening 10 minutes and I knew right away that something was wrong,” admitted Bradley.
“When I got up I went to put weight on my foot but it sort of gave way and I had to go to ground again.
“I then tried to play on but couldn’t run and when our physio came on to look at it he immediately told me to come off.
“It was a devastating blow for me because we had started the game so well and I thought that we were going places but unfortunately it went downhill for me and the team after that.”
It’s not the news manager Mickey Harte would have hoped for with Lee Brennan also a serious doubt after a recurrence of a hamstring injury forced him off early at Healy Park as well.
Tiernan McCann and Colm Cavanagh, who were both injury doubts going into the game, had to be replaced as well and with Peter Harte getting sent off late in the game, the Red Hands could well be without a third of last Sunday’s starting 15 for the upcoming Qualifier.
However, Tyrone’s youngsters will learn important lessons from their punishing afternoon at Healy Park, team captain Mattie Donnelly believes.
Ulster SFC defeat to Monaghan will serve a positive purpose if it provides experiences which can be exploited through the Qualifiers.
The Red Hands will discover next Monday morning who their sudden death opponents will be, and with a three-week break between their provincial exit and a first round Qualifier, injuries to key players will be given time to heal.
“There was a lot of learning out of that. It is in essence a very young Tyrone team, a lot of new faces,” said Donnelly.
“It’s a harsh lesson, but hopefully we can regroup and get going for the next day out.”
For the first time in a decade-and-a-half, a Tyrone team without an All-Ireland medallist was left to fight the good fight, following the departure of Cathal McCarron from the action early in the second half.
Another Sam Maguire Cup winner, Colm Cavanagh, had already succumbed to injury at half-time, and the Red Hands were shorn of valuable experience.
“When he went off, our oldest player was probably 27 and below, so we’re a young team, but we’re a very experienced team, so we can’t really make excuses for that,” said Donnelly.