Mark Bradley hoping to keep his Tyrone place ahead of All-Ireland semi-final with Monaghan
TYRONE ace Mark Bradley has heaped praise on the Red Hand bench after last Sunday’s famous victory over Donegal and hopes he’s done enough to remain in Mickey Harte’s starting line-up for next Sunday’s All-Ireland semi-final clash with Monaghan.
Bradley was expected to be one of the stars of the 2018 All-Ireland series but an ankle injury saw him limp out of Tyrone’s Ulster championship defeat to Monaghan on May 20.
He has battled to full fitness and won back a starting place in Mickey Harte’s team against Donegal after hitting a combined 1-3 in three substitute appearances against Cork, Roscommon and Dublin.
“You prime yourself to be fit for the first match in the Championship and to go off injured was disheartening,” said Bradley.
“But we’ve super boys to come off the bench. Richie [Donnelly] came in and has made his mark at full-forward now. We have subs coming off the bench that are changing games for us. I was one of them up until last week.
“The likes of [Kieran] McGeary, Conall [McCann], Ronie [O’Neill], Harry [Loughran], you’ve any amount of boys to come on.”
The key to Tyrone’s seven-point victory, which ended Donegal’s 21-game unbeaten record in Ballybofey, was not panicking in the face of Michael Murphy’s brilliant goal on the cusp of half-time.
“It was tough going. It was a warm, clammy day. We knew exactly what to expect: two teams desperate to get through to the next round. We knew we would have to give it everything to get through,” said the Killyclogher man.
“We were four down at one stage and then we struggled to get it down to three. But we kept our composure, we were patient and thankfully the goal came (in the 63rd minute) and the scores came a bit easier then. It was a tough, tough battle.
“You have to look at every scenario in football. You know there are going to be ups and downs in a game – the goal was obviously a big turning point for Donegal.
“But we never really panicked and I don’t think it looked like we panicked from the sideline either. We are obviously well conditioned and that’s down to the backroom team.”
After Tyrone’s surprise exit to Monaghan in the Ulster Championship, they have played seven games in quick succession – suffering one loss to Dublin the middle Super 8s game – but bouncing back against Donegal to clinch their third All-Ireland semi-final berth in four seasons.
“We’ve had a lot of matches and a lot of boys got game-time as well so that’s going to help things as well,” Bradley said.
“There is a super buzz about the squad. When you have 30 boys training and competing every Tuesday and Thursday, a place in the squad is a big challenge because a lot of boys aren’t getting on the squad. It’s credit to them because they are the boys that push you on in training and they are the ones fighting for spots.”
Monaghan dictated terms in their engrossing Ulster duel over 11 weeks ago. At Croke Park, Tyrone will be hoping for a different narrative against the Farney men.
“In terms of Monaghan we haven’t got a lot of time. All we can do is focus on ourselves and whatever Monaghan bring to the table we’ll have to deal with that.”