No row in Derry camp and no revolt against Mickey Harte, says Emmett Bradley

“We need it to click” admits Derry midfielder as Oak Leafers run out of wriggle-room

Derry's Emmett Bradley leaves Monaghan's Conor Boyle in his wake on the way to scoring the point of yesterday's Ulster semi-final. Pic Philip Walsh
Emmett Bradley says Derry "need it to click" against Mayo in Castlebar this weekend. Pic Philip Walsh

THERE was no fighting between his Derry teammates and no talk of a revolt against Mickey Harte, says Emmett Bradley.

When rumours of Armageddon in the Oak Leaf dressingroom were put to him, Glen clubman Bradley shook his head and said nothing had changed within a group that marched to the National League title before form deserted them in the Championship.

The tall tales doing the rounds over the last fortnight have no substance, said the experienced midfielder.

“It’s very easy for people to spin these things when things aren’t going well,” he said.

“But no, we’ve carried on the same format of training, the same format and reflection of games as we have when we were winning the National League.

“Obviously, we’re all really disappointed with how we’ve performed in the Ulster Championship and the group stages to date, but nothing’s changed in terms of the group or how we approach things. It’s just the responsibility for us as a playing group to face up to it and try and improve our performance moving forward.”

The momentum Derry enjoyed in the spring slipped away so easily after the loss to Donegal. After defeats to Galway and Armagh, Bradley’s goal saw last year’s All-Ireland semi-finalists steady the ship against Westmeath but they will need much better on Saturday against Mayo in Castlebar.

After a tumultuous few months, can Mickey Harte's Derry keep their All-Ireland hopes alive with victory over Westmeath? Picture by Margaret McLaughlin
There was no talk of a revolt against manager Mickey Harte says Emmett Bradley. Picture by Margaret McLaughlin

“We need it to click,” said Bradley.

“We’re in the knockout stages now and there’s no wriggle-room. Obviously, the format of the competition to date allowed us to hang in there but we won’t get another opportunity like that again so it’s important to get that bounce-back.

“The lads have shown evidence in the past that they’re able to get to those levels and it’s important for us to try and get back to that as soon as.”

Bradley says he can’t put his finger on “any one particular thing” that let the air out of the Derry balloon. Losing to Donegal in the Ulster Championship quarter-final at Celtic Park was a shock to the system they haven’t yet recovered from but they may have Niall Toner available for this weekend.

“They (Donegal) probably had their eye on us for six months,” said Bradley.

“From what I’ve heard their focus was narrowed entirely to that game. Fair play to them, they produced a serious performance that day, albeit we certainly weren’t at it in terms of being able to match it.

“Sometimes in your preparation, you think you’re prepared for it but you can very easily miss it so it’s difficult to put a finger on it with that regard.

“Momentum can swing very easily when you leak goals like that and it’s hard to swim against that tide sometimes whenever you’re in the moment. It’s important for us to be able to find ways to deal with that in-game. We did it a little bit better against Westmeath. But again, we’re certainly know it won’t be good enough for Mayo moving forward.”

He stepped back from Derry last season but he’s been on the go for months with club and county. They’ve been unforgettable months – county, Ulster and All-Ireland titles with Glen and the Division One crown with Derry. Is there a price to be paid in burn-out terms? Bradley doesn’t feel different from any other season.

“I don’t know if it’s a whole lot different from other year,” he says.

“Any player that’s committed full-time to their county and they’re working a job. I know myself personally, we’ve a wee girl who is only four and-a-half months and there’s other players across the country who are dealing with these challenges.

“They aren’t unique to Derry players. I think individually, whenever you have a Championship game coming up, you prepare for it the same way you would with any other game.

“It’s easy to say the energy’s not there whenever the performance hasn’t been matching it. But one big performance, hopefully, this weekend, will hopefully change that view. So that’s where our energy is focused.”