"I missed two senior championship games in the Gaelic and it was eating me up inside" - Bradley-Walsh getting a lot done
Joel Bradley-Walsh kicked 3-2 for Letterkenny IT in their narrow loss to UL in the Sigerson Cup last week.
It was a better day for the Donegal college on Tuesday when, in a tight and tense affair against UCD, the same man kicked the winner that sent them through to the quarter finals of the competition.
In between both games and in a twist that distinguishes him from the majority of top-level Gaelic footballers, Bradley-Walsh has been training away with League of Ireland club Finn Harps as they go through their pre-season paces.
Combining the two, especially at that level, is a tough balancing act but even though there have been clashes, double-match-days and a whole load of training sessions, this man won't be found complaining.
"It was tough to keep them both going and there was a stage when I was going from a soccer match, travelling in the car, changing in the car into the Gaelic gear and then getting out and playing," the Sean Mac Cumhaills club-man says.
"A game is as good as three or four training sessions is what you're told when you're younger though and when you're having two or three games a week, you learn so much as you're going along. The most important thing was that my body was able for it and that was the main thing. I stayed injury free and knew how to manage it. From my experience, you can make it work if you want to even though you're told not to.
"I went back to Gaelic and played minor when it wasn't clashing too much and as soon as I played a couple of matches, I really fell in love with Gaelic football again."
It's easy to see why.
The 21-year-old was welcomed back with open arms by the MacCumhaills club and having played a key role in their run to the quarter finals of the Donegal senior football championship this year, it was like he never left.
"I suppose I was lucky as well, I live in Ballybofey and both our training pitches (Finn Harps and Sean MacCumhaills GAA) are across the road. So I trained in Finn Park and then walked over to MacCumhails and played or trained then then.
"I hadn't much time to over-think it, it was just straight back into another sport and I suppose the toughest thing really is when they clash. Since my soccer contract was professional, I had to miss two Gaelic games in the senior championship and it was eating me up inside. Thank god for my managers with MacCumhails, they were very understanding for it and they did everything they could for me as did the lads in Finn Harps.
"But I remember those games and when the Gaelic was on at the same time, I would have had my mum or dad on the sideline scrolling through Twitter telling me the scores!"
And while he scores all around him on the Gaelic football field, it's a role-reversal for Finn Harps but he enjoys the variety.
"I've been centre half since under-16s! So I barely ever score in the soccer and maybe that was the drive to get back into the Gaelic! Being a bit jealous of the forwards," he laughs.
Watch this space Donegal 👀
Joel Bradley Walsh, who plays for Finn Harps, kicked the winning score for LYIT that knocked UCD out of the Sigerson Cup last night.
The @MacCumhaills club-man also scored a hat-trick against UL last week 🔥 pic.twitter.com/cIz5zRrF0h
— GAA JOE (@GAA__JOE) January 26, 2022
On the back of his impressive form with club and college, it's no surprise that Bradley Walsh is being touted as a potential county senior. Donegal legend Martin McHugh today said that he'd love to see him get a call-up of Declan Bonner and Bradley-Walsh, who plays as a centre back in soccer, says he would embrace it.
"You have to just take it all in. Like I love being with Finn Harps who are brilliant and are so good to me and I love Gaelic and love Donegal as well so if the call came in you'd have to embrace it. You'd have to go at it full-tilt"