After 16 years of big days Andy Moran finally gets the picture
Mayo veteran feels '100 per cent vindicated' in his decision not to retire after last season
Mayo’s Andy Moran lifts the Allianz League Division One trophy. Photo: Ryan Byrne/Inpho
Andy Moran’s post-match experience of Croke Park finals hadn’t been encouraging either for himself or the family but Sunday’s league win has added a layer of positive memories.
“Yeah it’s great,” he said about the presence of his children on the pitch after the defeat of Kerry. “Charlotte – we’ve got a lovely little collage of the two of us on the pitch after losing finals so it’s nice to have a cup. I suppose when she was born it was a dream to put her into the cup and get the picture of her but she’s a bit big for that now.”
At the 11th time of asking Mayo finally won a national final for the first time since the 2001 league. Moran, who turns 36 this year and made his debut against Down in 2003, was around for all but one of those and felt vindicated by his decision to give the county jersey one more year, having given retirement some serious consideration.
“Ah I did; it was the first winter I ever gave it thought and I was very grateful to James (Horan) when he rang me to say, ‘Listen, we want you back in’.
“I just had to think about it for a couple of weeks. I found it hard to go back training but then it just all started moving again and it’s difficult and I need to adjust my training from what I used to do in terms of going five days a week, that doesn’t happen anymore because work is too busy and life is too busy.
“Does it vindicate staying on? Yes it does – 100 per cent it vindicates it but you know, it’s a long summer yet.”
His contribution was from the bench on Sunday, coming on for the final quarter and providing a great assist for the third goal, getting out first to the ball, looking up and spotting Ciarán Treacy’s run in behind the defence and playing him in on goal.
“It looked like at times that we weren’t going to finish out the job but for Ciarán to go up and bang that goal in in the last few minutes was great. It was great for a young player to do it and great for the team.”
In the first year of manager Horan’s second stint, Mayo have made the best possible start to the year and done so while strengthening the panel with a number of new faces set to feature in the coming championship.
“I think that’s without question,” according to Moran. “I think if you were picking the team now in the morning without question you’d have Mattie Ruane there, Fionn McDonagh, who had a fantastic national league until he got injured, Michael Plunkett.
“You’ve James Carr, who had a lot of problems with his hips over the last couple of years but it’s great to see him playing and in that third quarter really turning it on. Darren Coen (was) excellent last week against Drew Wylie.
“It’s unreal. The competition is huge but I said it before; it’s not just one year. These guys have been in for three or four years. Mattie’s been in since ’16 when he won a 21 (All-Ireland).”
So, does a winners’ medal make it easier to look back at all of the other finals?
“Okay, that’s a different question now that we’ve won one! When the final whistle goes, there’s a massive sense of relief. Let’s call it; let’s be honest about it.
“If you asked me on the morning what does this mean to me, I’d have said, ‘it’s just another game’ but then Tracey bangs the net, the ref blows it up and the green and red of Mayo goes then and you’re thinking, ‘that’s a different story’.
“I still remember losing one in ’07 to Donegal and that was a hard one to take. We’re here 12 years later winning one so it’s great.”
Moran’s 11th heaven
Sunday’s AFL victory was Mayo’s first national title in 18 years. In the meantime the county had reached 10 finals, three league and seven All-Ireland, including the 2016 replay. Andy Moran’s career spanned all of them and only serious injury prevented him making it 10 out of 10 – a cruciate injury that forced him to miss the 2012 All-Ireland.
Of the nine he played, he started in seven and failed to score in only one – the 2006 All-Ireland when he was on the field for just 10 minutes.
2004 All-Ireland final – Kerry 1-20 Mayo 2-7
Came on as a replacement for Conor Mortimer in the 48th minute and kicked a point.
2006 All-Ireland final – Kerry 4-15 Mayo 3-5
Came on as a replacement for Peadar Gardiner in the 60th minute but despite scoring a critical goal off the bench in the semi-final win over Dublin, he didn’t score.
2007 League final – Donegal 0-13 Mayo 0-10
Started his first senior final, wearing 13 and was Mayo’s best forward, scoring one point, which tied the teams up going into injury-time but Donegal finished more strongly and won a first league title.
2010 League final – Cork 1-17 Mayo 0-12
Started at 10 and kicked a point but a lack-lustre performance by Mayo never got to grips with a Cork side on the way to a league and championship double that year.
2012 League final – Cork 2-10 Mayo 0-11
Started at 11 and kicked a point but again came out on the losing side against Cork.
2012 All-Ireland final – Donegal 2-11 Mayo 0-13
Having recovered from a broken ankle in late 2011, he captained Mayo to the 2012 Connacht title but sustained a cruciate injury in the All-Ireland quarter-final against Down.
2013 All-Ireland final – Dublin 2-12 Mayo 1-14
Again captain of the county, he scored 1-2 – his 50th-minute goal brought Mayo into the game – in the narrow defeat by Dublin before being substituted by Jason Doherty in the 68th minute.
2016 All-Ireland final – Dublin 2-9 Mayo 0-15
Starting at full forward, he scores two points as Dublin ride their luck, benefiting from two Mayo own goals, to stay in contention. He is replaced by Evan Regan in injury-time.
2016 All-Ireland final replay – Dublin 1-15 Mayo 1-14
Again from full forward, he scores a point - turning Cian O’Sullivan like a corkscrew – but an improved Dublin put in a strong finish to claim the title and he is replaced by Barry Moran after 54 minutes.
2017 All-Ireland final – Dublin 1-17 Mayo 1-16
Wearing 15 he puts in a solid shift, kicking three points and providing the assist for Lee Keegan’s goal before going off in the 63rd minute for Conor Loftus. Ends 2017 as Footballer of the Year.
2019 League final – Mayo 3-11 Kerry 2-10
Sprung from the bench to take over from Darren Coen in the 50th minute, he demonstrates great awareness with the final pass to Ciarán Treacy, whose 73rd-minute goal wraps up the title.