17 seasons and two All-Stars: Moran still proving his worth for Mayo at 35

The Ballaghaderreen forward continues to deliver for James Horan’s men.

WHEN ANDY MORAN sat down with members of the media earlier this summer, he was defiant about his place in inter-county football.

Andy Moran Andy Moran continues to deliver for Mayo. Source: Ryan Byrne/INPHO

“I still think I’m good enough,” he said. “I wouldn’t be back if I didn’t. I still think I have a lot to offer in whatever way James [Horan] wants to use me.”

By that stage of the season, Mayo had already been dumped out of the Connacht SFC by eventual champions Roscommon.

Moran’s involvement that day consisted of a brief blood-sub appearance in the opening period, followed by a full introduction off the bench in the 45th minute.

Once a regular in the starting team, this is the Ballaghaderreen man’s role in the Mayo team now. At 35, and with almost 17 years of inter-county service in the bank, this kind of change is to be expected for a top forward.

But his switch to the impact sub position hasn’t diminished Moran’s contribution to the Mayo attack. Whenever he has been released into action this season, the two-time All-Star has endeavoured to leave a positive mark on the game.

As expectations for substitutes go, Moran consistently delivers for his county. He came away with a point from that defeat to Roscommon in the Connacht semi-final, and started in their opening qualifier win over Down.

However, he was substituted before half-time in the next outing against Armagh and was omitted for the subsequent clash with Galway.

But he has bounced back well since then. Throughout the Super 8s — when substitute calls are crucial — Moran has been at the coalface of Mayo’s performances.

James Horan’s side were totally outgunned by Kerry in their opening Group 1 game, but Moran still managed to make a strong impact when he came on, kicking two points from play

Meath proved to be a sticky assignment in the second round, but Mayo weathered the storm, and Moran hit a point after coming on as a half-time substitute to help secure the win.

Their final outing against Donegal was a win or bust clash. The stakes couldn’t have been higher but the seasoned attacker was still trusted to make a contribution off the bench. 

Mayo won the tie by four points, with Moran showing his class in the clutch to grab two injury-time points, and help his side edge out a thrilling encounter.

Of course, Moran has had his doubters in recent seasons. In 2017, former Mayo footballer John Casey told the Second Captains podcast an interesting story about an encounter he had with the Mayo forward after victory over Donegal in the 2015 All-Ireland quarter-final.

Moran fulfilled the substitute role in that game and Casey suggested to him that it might be a better fit for him in the future.

Moran’s reply embodied the fiery spirit which typifies his longevity in the game.

“He turned around and said, ‘Would you shut up? You sound just like Holmes,” Casey said on the podcast.

“I had to laugh. He said a little bit more than ‘shut up’, if you know what I mean. He said to me ‘you sound just like Pat Holmes and Noel Connelly’, who were managers at the time.

It’s testament to what that guy gives.”

While Moran has certainly been producing the goods for Mayo, it’s likely that he will still fall short of a place in the starting 15 for their All-Ireland semi-final against Dublin today.

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Andy Moran and Caolan Ward Moran in action during Mayo's Super 8s meeting with Donegal. Source: Ryan Byrne/INPHO

But he’s proven himself to be a dependable scoring outlet for Mayo in pressure situations. And with key forward Jason Doherty ruled out for the season with an ACL tear, Moran’s assistance will be more important than ever.

In the Dublin squad, experienced forward Bernard Brogan is in a similar situation to Moran. He was once a nailed-on starter for the Dubs, but he’s been pushed him out of the regular rotation in recent years. 

The difficulty of trying to break into Dublin’s impressive match-day bench has hampered Brogan’s plans to play the impact role this season.

But he certainly put his hand up for selection last weekend in their final Super 8s match against Tyrone.

Granted, neither side were under pressure to get a result, having already secured their passage to the semi-finals. But Brogan applied himself well when he was introduced in the second half.

That display might well prove sufficient to seal a place in the match-day panel for today’s Croke Park showdown.

Those kind of opportunities have come around more frequently for Moran in 2019, but he’s profited from the chances every time.

Age is just a number for him.

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