Alamy Stock Photo Andrew Moran of Brighton (file pic).
# hot prospect
The Dublin teenager at Brighton with a Premier League debut under his belt
Andrew Moran on being a late developer and playing with Evan Ferguson.

EVAN FERGUSON is not the only Irish teenager making waves at Brighton.

Andrew Moran is another of several promising Irish youngsters on the books at the Seagulls.

Other up-and-coming Irish players at the club include James Furlong, Matt Everitt, Mark O’Mahony, Leigh Kavanagh, Jamie Mullins, and Killian Cahill.

But so far, Moran is the only one to follow in the footsteps of Evan Ferguson and Aaron Connolly before him by making his Premier League debut.

The 19-year-old came on in the 79th minute of a 4-1 win over Everton back in January.

It was his third senior appearance for the club in total, having made his first-team bow on the same night as Evan Ferguson, during a 2-0 EFL Cup win over Cardiff in August 2021.

And his debut even preceded Ferguson’s by a couple of minutes — Moran came on in the 68th minute while his fellow Irishman was introduced in the 81st.

“I beat him to it,” Moran laughs. “He was a year younger than me but we won’t mention that.”

Of the game itself, he adds: “It was unreal. I’ll never forget it.  

“My dad found out the night before and drove up to Belfast to get a flight to Cardiff somehow. I don’t know how he made it to the game. [My parents] were buzzing.”

And it’s no surprise that Moran has been as impressed as anyone by Ferguson’s impressive feats, with the 18-year-old registering seven goals in 16 appearances so far for Brighton this season.

“It’s so good for us. It shows what Evan is doing, he’s flying at club level, and shows if you are doing the right thing you will get chances. It’s really good for us to hear stories like that.

“How quickly it has happened is probably surprising, but everyone can see how talented he is. He’s a freak — such a good player. He’s so good and for his age is so physically able. I wouldn’t say it’s too surprising. I always knew he would be a joke.

“Looking at him I can’t imagine being older than him. Even at Brighton, it’s the same thing. He is impressing in training and we have a manager there who doesn’t really care about age — if you are good enough he will play you. It’s definitely inspiring.”

The story of Moran’s own rise is pretty remarkable. Unlike Ferguson, he was not a physically imposing player growing up.

“I was quite small back then. I used to play as a right-back because I was a bit too small to be in the middle of the park, getting battered around. I was quite small but I think it helps you in a way because it meant I had to do things differently. I had to learn how to hold off bigger players. Now I have developed a lot more, so I wouldn’t be too small now. I still have all the tricks I used to have that would keep me away. Now if I do get in duels I can hold my own.

“I wouldn’t really say it was a growth spurt. It was more gradual and I started to even out with the rest of the lads.”

After a schoolboy career that included stints at Knocklyon United, St Joseph’s Boys, and Bray Wanderers, he linked up with the Seagulls.

Initially, his slight stature meant Moran was asked to play an age down at Brighton before a u-turn was made on that decision.

“I was quite underdeveloped. The plan was to play down an age to deal with the physicality. I had a really good pre-season with the U18s when I first went. We scrapped that [initial plan] and played with the U18s then. We had a really good team and then came in the season after to play with the U23s.

“[Playing an age down] made sense at the time. When I came to Brighton they explained the plan they had for me. They do it with a lot of players, it does make sense. I wasn’t too fussed. I was just buzzing to get the opportunity to play for a Premier League team in any way, whether it was down an age or whatever. I was happy either way but as it worked out, I didn’t have to do it, it was perfect.

“I must have shown them something so that they didn’t want to do that, they wanted to push me earlier.”

Moran’s next challenge will be establishing himself as a regular with Jim Crawford’s Ireland U21s side. He made two appearances in the last campaign, home and away against Luxembourg, and will be hoping to add to that tally for Sunday’s friendly against Iceland in Turner’s Cross (kick-off: 4pm, live on LOITV).

“It was really good to be in last year. They couldn’t qualify in the end but it was a really good group of lads. We’ll hope to try and do the same this year if we can. Get as close as they did and hopefully go that one step further.”

Your Voice
Readers Comments
This is YOUR comments community. Stay civil, stay constructive, stay on topic. Please familiarise yourself with our comments policy here before taking part.
Leave a Comment

    Leave a commentcancel