Belfast Telegraph

Wednesday 30 July 2014

Midfield maestro Moran determined to stand tall for Mayo

Barry Moran has managed to reinvent himself and has become a pivotal figure in Mayo's midfield
Anthony Thompson's workrate has ensured that he is a key part of Jim McGuinness' side
Mark McHugh fulfils a vital role at |the heart of Donegal’s tactical blueprint

Coming off the pitch in Longford after a qualifier defeat two years ago, Mayo's Barry Moran never expected to get anywhere near an All-Ireland final in his career.

“We knew we’d let ourselves down and let the county down, simple as that,” the giant midfielder from Castlebar Mitchells reflected.

“It still annoys me when it is brought up because of the fact that we let everyone involved down.

“To say that we’d be in an All-Ireland Final 24 months later, at the time if someone offered that to me I would have taken their hand off.”

When James Horan was appointed as manager in October of that year, nobody would have blamed him if he cleared the decks and started again with a different set of players.

Yet, astonishingly, nine of that team that started against Longford also started against Dublin in the All-Ireland semi-final.

While the finger of suspicion would inevitably see the difference as being the change in management from John O'Mahony, team captain Andy Moran — himself ruled out of the final with a cruciate injury sustained in the quarter-final against Down — felt that 2010 was a very good year in terms of development, a view shared by Barry.

“I 100% agree. When you look back on it now it made lads more hardened. It highlighted to everyone the level of work and commitment and training that needs to go on to make sure you don’t reach that low.

“In hindsight it definitely was a year that built character in us, more so than knocking us down.”

Moran himself has needed to change his approach and adapt his body in order to become the pivotal figure he is for Mayo now.

Last year, injury kept him out of the panel, but an impressive showing in the club Championship was enough for Horan to recall him.

“I had to make sure that if I got an opportunity to play for Mayo again, that I took it. I put in good enough performances that allowed me to get back in.

“It just shows the character of James Horan as well. He brought me back in, he stood by his word. A lot of people would say that they’d look at matches and bring you in if you are playing well and you never hear from them again.

“But a couple of days after the county final James was onto me and I haven’t looked back since.”

And while Moran is glad that Mayo came back for him, Mayo are glad to have a player of his power back.

His midfield partnership with Aidan O'Shea is potentially the best in the game, and Moran's duel with Neil Gallagher in winning kickouts will be absolutely crucial in determining the destination of Sam on Sunday.

It just goes to show, that the dream is never over. Not for Mayo, not for Barry Moran.

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