THE harsher realities of life presently mean that Tyrone sharpshooter Mark Bradley appreciates that sticking a ball in the back of the net or over the bar isn’t the be all and end all right now.
After a year’s sabbatical from the county senior-set-up the Killyclogher ace was looking forward to a return to centre stage in 2020.
That might still occur of course once the world manages to eventually curtail the Covid-19 pandemic which has wrestled a vice-like grip on of all our lives.
Like millions of people across the globe the primary school teacher is currently entrenched at his home base, though because he is still seeking to nail down permanent employment (he was subbing at both St Mary’s PS Killyclogher, and St Mary’s PS Pomeroy this past academic year) he has a lot of spare time on his hands at the minute.
“There’s been nothing permanent as of yet, so I’m just going week to week. Normally you would know a month in advance, as schools would have you booked.
“ have been quite lucky, I have got an awful lot of work since I have qualified, with at least four days a week right through.
“I’m not doing remote teaching, as I do not have a permanent class under my responsibility. If I had been in a school long-term I would have been doing that.”
There is also a financial knock-on impact too for the talented attacker, with no safety net in place in terms of a regular salary at the minute, though Mark is hopeful that steps can be taken to address issues confronting temporary teaching staff across the country.
“It will be September or October by the time the next pay cheque comes in, so it’s a long stint without income.
“But looking at e-mails from the teachers union, there’s a possibility that the board might give us an average of what we would have worked.
“That would be great, if we were to get an average based on the previous month’s work. But that’s not guaranteed, that’s just in a letter written to the Minister of Education recently.
“For the time being, there’s no income, and there’s quite a few people in the same situation.
“And when you can’t work from home, and you can’t go out of the house, there’s no way of earning, but that’s obviously not the most important thing right now.
“But I suppose I’m lucky in that my expenditure isn’t that high. I’m living at home, so I don’t have a house or mortgage to worry about. It could be a lot worse.”
Bradley opted out of the Tyrone set-up last season, studying a teaching qualification in Liverpool, before spending last summer in Boston.
He has returned to the fray this year, though like all his county colleagues his training schedule has been disrupted in recent weeks. Mark is philosophical about the situation, adding that he is able to keep himself ticking over at home.
“We have got our set programme sent out to us, it’s mainly about running, and if you can get some gym equipment to work on.
“A lot of people don’t have the gym equipment at their house, but fitness shouldn’t really be a problem, for you can run as much as you can, and that’s a silver lining.
“I have enough equipment, it’s not a complete gym, but it’s enough to get me by. It covers the basics, and then I’m surrounded by fields, so there’s no lack of running space here.
“And everyone has a ball, so you would expect to see the skills level of everyone increase.”
He admits though that the cessation in all GAA activity has stymied his hopes of building up some momentum and a competitive edge after so long away from top flight action.
“ I have been quite unfortunate, because I have got quite a few niggles. I think it may be because the intensity levels while I was in Liverpool went quite low, and then I came back in, and although you feel refreshed, the intensity spikes through the roof again.
“ I have been hit with these niggly injuries, but now there’s plenty of time for everybody with those injuries to get them sorted and cleared up.”