Evergreen Andy Moran remains positive about Mayo’s prospects
Footballer of the Year looking ahead to another eventful summer campaign
Andy Moran: “I’m 35 in November and I know my time is limited playing for Mayo and I’m going to try and use every second of it.”
An update on Andy Moran.
The current Footballer of the Year is reflecting on all things Mayo;: how they burst out of a locked chest in Ballybofey just before it sank and managed to hang on to their Division One status; how they are shaping up for another crack at rolling the boulder up the mountain, starting with ever more threatening neighbours, Galway and in between, how cheerily optimistic he remains.
It’s even put to him that former Donegal footballer and fellow IT Sligo alumnus Eamonn McGee once said that Moran was the “most positive person” he had ever met.
So, does he try to learn from the repeated narrow defeats by Dublin or is it more advisable to forget about it – quickly – and wipe the slate clean? The answer is emphatic and includes an index of improvement that he feels his county is actually maintaining.
“No, you need to learn from them and I think the perfect example of that was the Kerry game last year. We really went at it and we did quite well in both games and ended up winning the replay which was great. It was the first time I beat Kerry in a championship game [an achievement to which Moran contributed 2-6 from play over the two matches].
“Then against Dublin – I’ve always had this 20-point marker in my head. If you get to 20 points, you think you have a chance to beat them and we got to 19. It was the highest we had got to. I think we got to 1-14 and 15 points previously.
“We got to 1-16 last year, and they still could get to 20 points so the only team that have beaten Dublin [last year] have got to 20 points. That was Kerry in the national league and I think that’s where you need to get to.”
He so obviously loves playing that, at 34, he’s back anticipating the new championship and there being no reason why Mayo shouldn’t win it. But had they taken Sam Maguire back to the frontier town of Ballaghaderreen, Moran’s home, last September would he have continued to play?
“Hundred per cent, yeah, 100 per cent. I’ll play for as long as I can. We had a second child there 13 weeks ago and I’m telling you that’s testing it. But it’s nothing to do with the football side of it. Home side now at the minute is crazily busy, the difference between going from one child of three, to two.
“But it’s something I love. More importantly it’s something my wife loves. She’s been involved in football as long as I’ve been involved, so it’s great. If you’ve the support at home, why not?”
There is however a sense of urgency about his inter-county career, which he acknowledges isn’t open-ended. He is asked whether he has experienced anything of the burden or pressures that can come with the FOTY accolade that he won in 2017.
“To be honest, no, and I think the reason for it is if I won it at 24 or 25, would I have struggled the following year? Probably, because my maturity levels wouldn’t have been high enough. But I don’t have time to be waiting. I’m 35 in November and I know my time is limited playing for Mayo and I’m going to try and use every second of it.”
The first opportunity arrives in just over five weeks against newly-resurgent Galway, who have beaten Mayo in their last three league and championship matches and who ran Dublin to a respectable four points in last Sunday’s league final.
If all went to plan, he’s asked, what would Mayo actually do after winning an All-Ireland?
“I’d say it would be quite similar to the likes of Armagh, Clare in the 1990s in the hurling. Mayo people are . . . don’t get me wrong; if we won an All-Ireland in September, Mayo people would be giving out about something in October.
“It’s football. It’s an addiction. It’s what they love. We were talking to some of the guys out there: even Niamh from Donegal, she was saying, ‘Mayo people are mad, like’. And we are; we’re a bit mad. It’s a nice way to be. But it would be a great couple of weeks.”
– Andy Moran was speaking at Thursday’s launch of the Kellogg’s GAA Cúl Camps for 2018