Former Fermanagh forward Colm Bradley looks back on three memorable games he was involved in

Saturday July 3, 2004
All Ireland SFC Qualifiers

Fermanagh 0-19 Meath 2-12 (aet)

“Do you mind that point you scored against Meath?” 
The question is normally asked with a broad smile. I do remember it by the way. An equaliser from the sideline with the last kick of the game. I remember being tempted to play a one two with Shane Goan instead. I was glad I didn’t in the end. Throw it up at the back post is what I thought. It died a bit early and feel over the bar close to the near post. That’ll do. 
It was an incredible night in Brewster Park. A balmy Saturday. Bone dry sod. A game no one expected us to win. And as such there was no pressure at all. People ask me what Charlie Mulgrew was like as a manager. Curt and uncompromising and straight to the point. Not everyone’s cup of tea, perhaps. But he knew football I can tell you that. 
I remember before that Meath game Charlie instructing Stephen Maguire to take the great Meath full back Darren Fay on a tour of Brewster Park. He was their best defender Charlie reasoned. I played in the full forward line alongside Stevie. Charlie says to us. “He won’t stay inside on you Brads. He will follow Stevie.” A dagger to the heart there Charlie, thanks for that! He was of course right. Fay followed Stevie all over the pitch. 
He also told Eamon Maguire and Mark Little to spend plenty of time inside. To rotate it around. What ensued was Meath half backs running around for pockets of time in the full back with their heads spinning. There was a subtly and real thought to what Charlie did at times. 
That night was the best we played all year. We kicked 19 points, if I remember, with 16 coming from play. The atmosphere was incredible. The stand was jumping. The feeling at the end of the game electric. But none of that is why the game is memorable for me. The game is memorable because 16 years later people still say to me: “Do you mind that point you scored against Meath?”.
It tells me that cups and trophies are important but what really matters when it comes to the GAA is how it makes people feel. How people can remember moments in time. After the Meath game a journalist wrote that it was a score that I would be forever remembered by. I thought that was a nice thing to write, but maybe a little much. As it turns out it wasn’t far wrong, and I feel very fortunate about the whole thing to be honest. 
Because, the truth is, when it comes to that point against Meath, there was a lot of pieces of luck that put me that position. I was lucky there was no left footer on the pitch. I was lucky I was close to the ball when it went out. I was lucky I was too tired to go for that one two. I was lucky that I caught it sweetly. I was lucky that it dropped over the bar. That’s all really. One series of lucky breaks on a Saturday night in Brewster and people still want to talk about it. Memorable surely. 

Sunday September 24, 2006
Fermanagh SFC Final

Enniskillen 1-12 Ederney 0-07

The first was great. But the last wasn’t bad either. When people talk about the Enniskillen Gaels team that I was fortunate enough to be part of, attention understandably turns to six in a row. Those victories between 1998 and 2003 are all sort of rolled in to one. The victory in 2006 doesn’t feature as much. For me though it was an extremely significant win, if only for the simple fact that the whole county thought we were washed up. 
There was a grain of truth in that assertion I suppose. We were not what we were. Miles on the clock the biggest enemy. We had lost in the 2004 Championship final to Derrygonnelly before being beat by Newtownbutler in 2005 in the first round. We were done at that point, or so was the narrative. 
The 2006 Championship saw wins over Devenish and Newtownbutler, the latter by the smallest of margins in a dour game, set up a final with Ederney who came from Division Two to beat three Division One teams to reach the final. 
They had the neutral support, there is no doubt about that, and there was a fair degree of romanticism in the air during the build up to the final. I remember we warmed up at Castle Park and having the feeling that we were going to win the game quite comfortably. There was a sort of quiet determination. This belief that a performance could be summoned, you know like that ageing fighter that had one last big one in him. This was the day it was going to happen for us. 
My brother Simon was managing that year and he was the first manager I seen who would completely change around the defensive set up depending on the opposition. He was a big believer in winning personal battles and liked to match up defenders with forwards who he thought they were best suited to mark. Before the game I remember being very confident in our match ups. 
That final was the first championship game that Paul Brewster started. He had come on in the semi-final and was brilliant and was the catalyst for the win. In the final he was equally imperious as he dominated the middle third. Brother Tom was as his usual self. A sort of mundane magnificence we had become to perhaps take for granted. Neil Cox was efficiency personified in defence. Ryan McCluskey calm and dictating. The rest of the defenders on top as expected. It was a mighty platform from which to attack. 
Niall Keenan and Matty Keenan were two serious players in the forward line. Niall a force of nature in many respects with a deftness and cleverness often overlooked. Matty, as accurate and combative as they came. Ronan McCabe did what he always did in county finals. Get the better of his man, clip over a series of points and leave me wondering how county managers couldn’t get more out of the best club forward I ever seen in Fermanagh football. 
A shot of Ronan’s hit the crossbar in the first two minutes. I gratefully accepted the gift and squeezed it in off the far post. The air went out of Ederney. The game was over. 
It was nice to scale the Fermanagh mountain again. Proving people wrong was good. Proving ourselves right was better. Six in a row was great. The seventh was even sweeter. 

Wednesday March 17, 1999
MacRory Cup Final

St. Michael’s 4-11 St. Colman’s 0-12

I’m watching a show on Amazon at the moment. Little Fires Everywhere. Reese Wetherspoon plays a sort of Stepford wife with dysfunctional kids. Anyway, it is set in the late 90’s and yet it doesn’t seem that old. You know what I mean. I’m speaking to those born late 70s early 80s by the way. The music in the show still seems modern while the clothes and décor are right back in fashion again. Yet it is over 20 years ago. Mind boggling. 
I found my old St Michael’s jersey a few months ago and put it on. Thank god it wasn’t player fit is all I can say. Here’s a funny story about the final jersey though. We got a new set of jerseys made for the final with Bank of Ireland on it and they put the St Colman’s crest on our jersey. I remember that riling me. I had a big enough chip on my shoulder about how Fermanagh folk were thought of as it was, without that being added into the mixer. 
Dom Corrigan was a mighty man for stirring that mixer too. I didn’t get an All Star that year. Aidan Fegan did who was the Colman’s full forward. How Dom went to town on that. The truth is the All Star didn’t matter. You won’t believe that, but it didn’t. The MacRory Cup was all that mattered. Outside of winning a county title with the Gaels it was the other holy grail. 
That day Colman’s were 4/7 and we were 5/2. Crazy odds. We had beaten them in the league and all week in the lead up to the final I knew we were going to win. Even when a fresh-faced Barry Owens buckled himself in the first few minutes. By half time we were six up. Shortly after the break we were nine up and cantered home. 
Afterwards it seemed like the whole of Fermanagh were on the field. There was a “rare day in the sun for Fermanagh football” as one journalist put it in the following day’s paper. That riled me too. Even in an 11-point demolition the chip on the shoulder was added to with perceived slights. The fact was it was rare. Only a third MacRory Cup in the school’s history. Thankfully there has been a right few more now. It was a great day. It was a great night. It was a great few days. 
We threw the Hogan away mind you, but that’s another story.