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Captain Andy leads way into battle

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Andy Moran
READY TO GO
Mayo captain Andy Moran begins his tenth championship campaign next Sunday.?Pic: Sportsfile

Searching for consistency


Mayo’s captain learnt a lot from losing the League Final

Interview

Mike Finnerty


CORK may have taught Mayo a few lessons in the National League Final back in April, but the Connacht champions have been busy revising over the last two months, according to Andy Moran.
The Mayo skipper begins his tenth championship campaign with the county squad next Sunday and admits that he and his team-mates were told a few home truths by Cork eight weeks ago.
“A lot of people had dressed us up as a physical team but I think Cork showed us what being a physical team is,” explained the 28 year-old.
“We need to be a bit smarter when we play bigger teams. We have a few bigger lads but we need to move the ball a tiny bit quicker and play at a good tempo.
“Cian [O’Neill] has addressed a few issues that he saw in the Cork game but the main thing is that we learn from that game.
“I believe the big thing for us in the next few years is to get consistent,” he added. “We need to keep getting into All-Ireland semi-finals and finals and then, hopefully, eventually, get across the line.”
Mayo’s latest championship adventure begins on home ground against rank outsiders, Leitrim, who haven’t won this renewal since the Connacht Final in 1994.
The defending champions are expected by all and sundry to take care of business next Sunday, and move on to a provincial final meeting with Sligo on July 15.
But Andy Moran is not buying into the hype for one second.
“We were overwhelming favourites too in 2006 when we went down to Carrick-on-Shannon to play Leitrim, and they hit the crossbar in the last minute when a goal would have knocked us out,” recalled the Ballaghaderreen attacker.
“We’re a Division 1 side, Leitrim are a Division 4 side so it’s probably fair to say that we would be favourites with the bookies. But everyone knows that a Connacht championship match is different and Leitrim have a game under their belts which is going to be a great help to them.
“I know the likes of Emlyn Mulligan and James Glancy from Sligo IT, they’re really, really good footballers.
“But all we can concentrate on is ourselves.”
An awful lot has changed in the Mayo dressing-room since Moran first bounced through the door as a fresh-faced student back in 2003.
Interestingly, he cites the arrival of the latest batch of talented minors and U-21s as being one of the main reasons why he is particularly positive about the months ahead.
“The young fellas coming in makes a massive difference. Having Cillian [O’Connor], Aidan [O’Shea], Robbie Hennelly around the place, guys like Michael Walsh and Michael Forde, Danny Kirby, they have no fear and they really push us on. They don’t give us older guys a chance to relax.
“Do I have a good feeling? I have a good feeling about every year. I wouldn’t be back in if I didn’t think we could do something special. But you have to take one step at a time.”
On a personal note, Moran believes that he is “100% fit” for the first time since breaking his leg last September and is hoping to recapture the form that won him an All Star last year.
He doesn’t expect the captaincy to weigh heavily on him either; and he’s not planning to change his approach.
“I think it’s fair to say that I talk a lot,” he laughed.
“The guys know me so well at this stage that if I changed I’d say I’d get absolutely slated. I’ll have to stay as I am.
“We’re blessed though with the leaders we have in the group; my job is made very easy by having them around. We’ll see now when it comes to a big game, when we’re in a tight spot, who stands up. That’s when we’ll see our leaders.”

FACTFILE
Andy Moran

Age: 28
Club: Ballaghaderreen
Occupation: Community Development Officer with Mayo/Roscommon Hospice Foundation
Championship debut: 2004
Did you know? Mayo’s last All-Ireland winning captain, Seán Flanagan, also played for Ballaghaderreen.

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