ON THE EDGE OF THEIR SEATS Andy Moran (centre), who missed the 2012 Mayo SFC Final due to a knee injury, watches the closing stages of the match from the Ballaghaderreen dugout. Also in the picture is the current Mayo Under-20 manager, Michael Solan (left). Pic: Michael McLaughlin
WHEN Ballaghaderreen and Ballintubber last met in a County Senior Final back in 2012, both teamsheets were missing some big names.
Ballintubber’s Cillian O’Connor was sidelined with a shoulder injury, while Andy Moran was recovering from a torn cruciate ligament.
Moran remembers watching on as Ballagh’ ended Ballintubber’s dreams of a three-in-a-row.
“Cillian was out at the time and I was out with my cruciate, so the two of us were sitting on the bench,” he told The Mayo News Football Podcast last week. “It was a great time. I remember the players we had.
“We’d David Kilcullen, Jimmy K[ilcullen], Barry Kelly, Andy Hanley, real exciting players. “They could really shoot the lights out. It was a really, really good team performance.
“But that was a really strange game. I’ll never forget it. Dillo’ [Alan Dillon] got concussed. We got over the line, but we just got there. It was one of those where you’d love to have been on the field but you were still so proud of the guys.”
It would be Ballagh’s last final for seven years as their star-studded squad began to break up and the East Mayo men entered a period of transition. But next Saturday evening they’re back with a new group comprised of exciting youngsters and some ‘golden oldies’.
“Barry Kelly was moving on, Jimmy K wasn’t going to last much longer, we knew he was moving up the country and we knew Andy Hanley was moving on,” Moran explained.
“Cian [Hanley] was our bright hope at the time but he was going to Australia so we knew we might struggle for a while.
“Of course, you still think you can compete and we stayed at senior, which was huge for us. “But this is a whole new team. We came back last year… We knew we kind of had something that we could build on.
“Then all of a sudden you’ve Cian Hanley improving, he was a game-changer for us last year getting back into the squad. Shairoze [Akram] is playing well. Then you’ve Kuba [Callaghan] and David McBrien coming. We knew we could get it right.”
Since the 2017 Footballer of the Year announced his retirement from the Mayo senior squad just over a month ago, Moran has barely had a minute to reflect on life after inter-county.
He says the letters and cards are still arriving through the door, but between work with his gym, ‘The Movement’, Ballagh’s run to the County Final and juggling family life, the realisation of not being a Mayo player hasn’t sunk in just yet.
“I still think I’m a player to be honest with you,” he said. “I’d meet some of the lads; I met Diarmuid [O’Connor] there tonight and I’d ask that you’d be thinking, ‘Jeez, I really shouldn’t be asking him that question’. You still sort of think you’re part of the panel in some form, but that will wear off.
“But did I have second thoughts? No… I think I was fairly adamant during the year, myself and my wife, Jennifer, were fairly adamant during the year that this is it.
“I don’t think I’ll truly miss it until next February or March when the boys starting putting on the green and red again and you’re sitting in the stand and you’re freezing thinking, ‘could I do something? Could I give something?’. I think I’ll miss it then, but right now I’m enjoying the club scene.”
His performances would suggest that too.