Star man Bradley quits Derry panel

PADDY BRADLEY has sensationally quit the Derry panel after being dropped for today’s All-Ireland qualifier with Carlow.

It’s understood that the prolific former All Star forward was told at training Thursday night that he would not starting in the Dr Cullen Park tie.

He then left the session at Owenbeg and will not travel with the squad for the first round qualifier with Luke Dempsey’s Barrowsiders today.

Though manager Damian Cassidy last night denied by text message that Bradley had left the panel other sources within the Oak Leaf camp insisted the attacker will not be part of the squad for this evening’s qualifier.

When contacted yesterday, Bradley declined to comment on the matter.

The news comes almost a year to the week after Bradley left the Derry panel before the county’s qualifier with Monaghan.

On that occasion, Bradley cited personal reasons for his decision which came a week before the game in Clones. He subsequently changed his mind returning to score 2-8 against the Farneymen.

Bradley is the Ulster championship’s all-time record scorer and has been one of the country’s top marksmen since he joined the Derry panel in 2000, at the age of 19.

He famously earned a spot in the starting line up for that year’s Ulster final by telling the great Eamon Coleman that he was the best forward in the county.

And for most of the past decade, he’s lived up to that mark. 17 goals and 193 points in Derry colours have seen him go past the likes of Peter Canavan, Oisin McConville, Paddy Doherty and Peter Donohue to top the all-time scorers’ list in the province.

However, he has struggled with injury over the past couple of years.

Bradley’s decision leaves Cassidy with a real selection headache. He is already without Patsy Bradley and Michael Bateson, and serious doubts hang over Fergal Doherty, Gerard O’Kane and Barry McGuigan.

It’s believed that Bradley’s decision will not affect the participation of his brother, Eoin, who will remain as part of the team and travel to Carlow. But the news is a massive blow to Derry’s hopes of building a run through the qualifiers, as they have done to good effect in 2001, 2004 and 2007.

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