Despite entering the twilight stage of his career, Coleraine striker Eoin Bradley insists he has no intentions of retiring any time soon.
The 37-year-old continues to be torment in chief for many defences in the Danske Bank Premiership as the marksman uses his strength and experience to bring other players into the game.
It marks a significant rise in senior football for the man known as ‘Skinner’ as he was only handed his debut in the top flight at the age of 28.
However, the Glenullin man has no regrets at entering the soccer world so late in his career after starring for Derry GAA.
“Of course, I’d have liked to have started football a bit earlier, but with the Gaelic and everything else, it didn’t just suit at that time,” he said.
“I’ve been fortunate to win several trophies and play for some great clubs at football, and if I could turn back time, I probably would have liked more years at it.
“However, I have no regrets because I’ve been lucky to have had so much longevity and no serious injuries since the age of 26.
“I’ve had a few knocks here and there but nothing serious and I’m feeling fit and hope to continue for a year or two yet.
“I certainly haven’t thought about hanging the boots up.
“I was playing great football at the start of the season, scored a few goals and was named Man of the Match several times before I got married, so I’m looking to hit that form again.
“Understandably, I lost my place in the team after getting married and going on honeymoon, so it’s up to me to work hard and make the most of any opportunities that come my way.”
Bradley – who would leave Coleraine for a spell at Glenavon at the start of the 2014/15 campaign – insists there are a lot of similarities between the two clubs who face each other this weekend at Mourneview Park.
“Gary has his own way of managing and people sometimes have the wrong impression of him,” he added.
“He is a great manager, a good friend and a great lad. If there’s anything he needs from me I’m happy to do it and vice-versa.
“I had a great time up there as we played in Europe three times and won the Irish Cup.
“It is quite similar to Coleraine as it’s a family club with excellent staff, volunteers, and fans.
“I really enjoyed my spell at Glenavon and it’s always great going back to Mourneview Park.”
The striker would be lured back to The Showgrounds in January 2017 and helped the Bannsiders win the Irish Cup a year-and-a-half later, as well as the BetMcLean League Cup in 2020.
However, it is the strides that Coleraine have made both on and off the pitch that has really impressed ‘Skinner’.
“Oran gave me my debut in the Irish League and despite leaving for Glenavon, he always told me he would like to have me back if the chance was there,” Bradley continued.
“I can’t speak highly enough of Oran both on and off the pitch as he has done a lot for me.
“The success that we have had since I’ve returned has been great and here’s hoping there is plenty more to come.
“The redevelopment of the pitch, changing rooms and everything else has been fantastic. There has been so many changes since I first joined ten years ago and it’s helping take us to a new level.
“You have to give credit to the Board of Directors, Colin McKendry, Oran and all the staff for making that happen as the full-time teams are raising the bar and it’s important we try and match that as best as we can.
“The crowd numbers have been phenomenal and to play in front of a packed Showgrounds has been great.”
The Bannsiders are only eight points off the top of the table with a game in hand, as well as in the semi-final of the BetMcLean League Cup.
As such, Bradley knows it’s important they pick up as many positive results in the coming weeks and months.
“We certainly have a lot to play for,” he stressed.
“It was disappointing to lose out against Linfield last weekend but we are not even half way through the season yet.
“We still have to play all the top teams again at least twice, if not three times, so there’s plenty left to play for.
“We are looking forward to the League Cup semi-final next Tuesday and the draw was just made for the Irish Cup.
“We just have to worry about ourselves and you just never know where it could take us.”
So, how does Bradley view married life?
“Nothing really changes,” he joked.
“Things are going good both on and off the pitch and I’m lucky to have such a great family and I love this time of the year.
“I’m hoping to win my place back in the team and help us win more silverware.”