Liam Bradley feels the time is right for him to leave Antrim — but insists that doesn’t necessarily mean he will be taking over as Derry manager.
The Glenullin native is stepping down after four years in charge of the Saffrons having led them to an Ulster final (in 2009) as well as two league finals as well as helping to raise the profile of football in the county.
He met county chairman Jim Murray last week and then spoke with his back-room team of Gearóid Adams, Paul McFlynn and Tony McCollum on Friday night before making his decision.
“Four seasons is a long time in inter-county management,” said Bradley.
“If the players are to step another rung or two up the ladder they would need a fresh face and a new voice in the dressing-room.
“I believe they are capable of taking another step forward and I sincerely hope I am proved right on that. I met with the chairman first of all to see what his thoughts were and what resources would be available for the coming season and after chatting to my back-room team over the weekend, we feel it is the right time for all concerned to step down.”
Inevitably, Bradley’s decision will be viewed as the first step along the road to him being appointed manager of his native county.
Derry are currently in limbo with John Brennan confirming he will not attend an interview for the job he has held for the past two years.
Bradley revealed last night that he has not made up his mind whether he will be willing to go for an interview for the vacant post.
“I don’t even know if I have been nominated or whether I am interested in going for an interview,” he said.
“I was nominated a few times in the past and never went for an interview, but I will talk to Paddy and Eoin and the family about it.”
John Brennan led Derry to a first Ulster final appearance in 11 years last summer but they were crippled by injuries this year and suffered an early championship exit to Longford in the qualifiers.
The county hasn’t won an Ulster title since 1998 and time is running out for many established stars, including Bradley’s two sons.
He’s aware that whoever gets the job faces a tough assignment to get Derry back up to where they feel they should be.
“It is going to be a really big job for whoever gets it,” admits Bradley.
“Derry have a great tradition of being one of the top teams over the years and whoever gets the job has to get them back to that, which won’t be easy.
“But right now, all my energies are focused on helping the club because we have a very difficult championship game against Slaughtneil on Saturday.”
Lending a helping hand with Glenullin has refreshed Bradley, who was in charge when they last won the title in 2007.
He is rightly proud of his achievements with Antrim, adding: “when we went there, Antrim was in the doldrums”.
“We had a good run but we were a bit unlucky not to get to Croke Park this year. It’s a bit disappointing we didn’t win silverware from the finals we played in, but we had a pretty successful four years.”
© Irish Examiner Ltd. All rights reserved