Liam Bradley admits it came as a shock when Malin called asking whether he would be interested in taking over as manager.
Having managed Antrim on two occasions, the most recent of which ended last September, the Glenullin, Co Derry, clubman opted to try his luck in Donegal.
“It wasn’t a call that I had really envisaged,” Bradley said this week.
“But I was very impressed with the committee at Malin and within 15 minutes of meeting them I knew this was the right fit.”
As manager of Antrim, Bradley’s team famously dumped John Joe Doherty’s Donegal from the 2009 Ulster championship quarter-final following a 1-10 to 0-12 win in Ballybofey.
That was the first step on the road to Antrim’s first Ulster final in 29 years, only to see Tyrone win the Anglo-Celt Cup on a 1-18 to 0-15 scoreline.
Antrim eventually lost their fourth round qualifier, 2-12 to 1-10 in Tullamore against Kerry, who went onto win Sam Maguire.
Bradley was in charge of John Mitchel’s GAC Claudy for the last two years and took his hometown club Glenullin to the 2007 Derry SFC title.
Last year, his son Paddy, the former Derry footballer, was part of the Gaoth Dobhair backroom team under player-manager Kevin Cassidy.
“I’d have a good enough grasp of football in other counties,” Liam Bradley added.
“Malin have a good team; Declan Walsh has an All-Ireland winners’ medal and Stephen McLaughlin was part of Jim McGuinness’s Donegal panel last year.
“I know it’s a strong soccer area but we hope to work hand in hand.
“I’m excited about the prospect of working with a Donegal club and I’ve never been to places like Ardara and Kilcar.”
Bradley replaces Terence Coulhoun, who guided Malin to a first ever RTÉ Raidió na Gaeltachta SFC semi-final in 2013 when they ousted red-hot favourites St Eunan’s on a 3-12 t0 2-7 in Buncrana in the quarter-finals.
Last season, 2014, Malin failed to progress beyond the group stage that included both St Eunan’s and Naomh Conaill; although they comfortably defeated Naomh Muire to avoid the complications of the relegation play-offs.
In the All-County Football League Division One, Malin finished in sixth place.
“Malin probably see the 2013 semi-final loss to Killyebgs as an opportunity lost,” Bradley adds. “They’ve made massive strides in the last few seasons.
“When you consider they’ve spent most of their existence in the junior and intermediate ranks, to talk about reaching senior finals shows how far they’ve come.
“That’s the way to be thinking.”
Bradley will form a backroom team primarily made up of locals in the coming weeks and will also enter the team into the Ulster Senior League.
“It will give me an opportunity to cast an early eye over the panel,” he said. “I’m not coming to make up the numbers and have told the people at Malin this.
“I will guarantee that Malin will be committed and hard to beat and we will see where that takes us.”