HARD GOING Andy Moran reacts to a missed opportunity during Mayo’s defeat to Kildare in the All-Ireland SFC Qualifiers last June. Pic: Sportsfile
ANDY MORAN says he ‘is very grateful for the opportunity’ to line out with Mayo again this year after ‘a very tough’ 2018 following the death of his father last February.
Speaking to The Mayo News recently, Moran admitted that he found dealing with his dad’s passing very difficult and that football ‘wasn’t as high on his priority list’ as it had been in the past as a consequence.
“From a personal point of view, it was a very tough year,” the Ballaghaderreen native explained candidly.
“Unfortunately, I lost my dad in February but we had our youngest child, Ollie, in January. In the space of five weeks, that was emotionally tough and I struggled with that all year.
“In terms of life and football, in general, it was a really tough year. The football was a nice vehicle for me, unfortunately it ended a bit early for us up in Kildare, but it was a nice way to get away from things.
“I didn’t really know what was happening, to be honest. It was the first time that I’d lost somebody that close to me, so it took a bit of time to get over.
“You hear of people losing parents all the time, and people close to them, but I think you just have to go through the experience.
“You just realise then how tough it is.
“It’s only now really, looking back, that I’m saying, ‘Jeez it affected me really badly’.
“I actually read a great piece [on grief] recently by Niamh Fitzpatrick, who worked with us as our sports psychologist a lot in 2016, especially,” he continued.
“She was saying that you struggle to concentrate. I love reading, but I hadn’t read anything. . I wasn’t writing anything down or putting stuff in my journal. It was concentration.
“I was finding it difficult to get back into it, but it’s improving.
“We had a little fella too that didn’t sleep for a while, and it just all added up and was tough from a personal point of view.
“Time, basically, was what helped me.
“Unfortunately, we got beaten by Kildare but since then it’s given me a bit of time to reflect.
“You can talk about something else bar football, and then you can see, ‘Wow, maybe this did affect me a tiny bit’.
“In a way, it’s a good thing to happen to you because if you see it happening to a younger guy now you understand it a tiny bit more.
“I never thought it would have that big of an affect on me, and it did.
“It’s a learning curve, but hopefully I can use it to help other people in the future.”
Moran also admitted that he is looking forward to ‘putting into practice’ what he learned from the whole experience last year — especially when it comes to focussing on his football.
“I don’t think you actually notice it when you’re in it, but it’s when you step back and reflect that you actually say, ‘Was I working on the stuff that I should have been working on?” he said.
“Was I giving what I’ve given over the past 10 years? Did I give as much as Colm Boyle over the last six months?’
“And then you look back on it, and you go, ‘Possibly I didn’t’. And there’s a bit of guilt in that too.
“It was probably no fault of my own, but at the time I didn’t realise that football wasn’t as high on my priority list as it was once was.
“That’s why I’m so grateful for the opportunity to go again in 2019. I just feel that, it wasn’t a missed year, but it was a great year for me for learning. I’d like to put that learning into practice.”