Family Moment

'We've got a lovely little collage of the two of us on the pitch after losing finals so it's nice to have a cup'

Andy Moran savoured glory in Croke Park with his family on Sunday.

IN THE RUN of national final heartbreak visited upon Mayo as a collective since 2001, no individual has been more associated with those days of disappointment than Andy Moran.

Before Sunday’s breakthrough Mayo had played ten national deciders between league and championship in the time since they lifted the league title 18 years ago.

Andy Moran with his kids Charlotte and Ollie Mayo's Andy Moran with his kids Charlotte and Ollie. James Crombie / INPHO James Crombie / INPHO / INPHO

Moran played in nine of those encounters. A trio of league final reversals, five All-Ireland final losses and the drawn game in 2016 with Dublin. The solitary day he was marked absent was in 2012 against Donegal, his cruciate snapping six weeks previously and consigning him to a watching brief on sideline.

On Sunday at the final whistle he was on the pitch for the win over Kerry, pressed into action in the 50th minute. The 35-year-old helped cajole a victory out of the Mayo setup, involved in his busy manner in the build-up to the second goal and releasing Ciarán Treacy for the third strike that wrapped up matters.

The aftermath felt seismic for the county, not least for Moran on a personal level. In the recent days when they fell short his pain on the pitch was illuminated by snapshots of him with his young daughter.

Andy Moran Mayo lost out to Dublin in the 2016 All-Irealnd final replay. Donall Farmer / INPHO Donall Farmer / INPHO / INPHO

Andy Moran with his daughter Charlotte at the end of the game Andy Moran with his daughter after the 2017 All-Ireland final.

On Sunday he got to climb the steps of the Hogan Stand to clutch a trophy with Charlotte and her brother Ollie accompanying him.

“It’s great,” he reflected afterwards.

“Charlotte, we’ve got a lovely little collage of the two of us on the pitch after losing finals so it’s nice to have a cup. I suppose when she was born it was a dream to put her into the cup and get the picture of her but she’s a bit big for that now.

“No, no it’s great. The two kids there, it was lovely.”

Andy Moran lifts the trophy Andy Moran lifts the league final trophy with his son Ollie. Ryan Byrne / INPHO Ryan Byrne / INPHO / INPHO

The appreciation of the success could also be traced in Moran’s deliberation since Mayo’s 2018 journey ended in Newbridge as to whether he would sign up to the playing cause again.

“It was the first winter I ever gave it thought and I was very grateful to James (Horan) when he rang me to say, ‘Listen, we want you back in’.

“I just had to think about it for a couple of weeks, I found it hard to go back training but then it just all started moving again and it’s difficult and I need to adjust my training from what I used to do in terms of going five days a week.

“That doesn’t happen any more because work is too busy and life is too busy. But the boys are very good to me, they look after me a lot.

“I think the big problem I have is that I love playing for Mayo, I love football but life takes over in terms of wife, kids, job, stuff like that.

“Does it vindicate staying on? Yes it does, 100 per cent it vindicates it. But, you know, it’s a long summer yet.

“We’re opening a new business (a leisure centre) on Friday in Castlebar so it’s going to be a tough couple of weeks but the lads help me out with anything I need. So it does really help it.”

James Horan celebrates Mayo manager James Horan celebrates after the game. Ryan Byrne / INPHO Ryan Byrne / INPHO / INPHO

It may not be the ultimate Gaelic football prize that Mayo have been indelibly linked with given their enduring pursuit yet a league title is something to toast for a group accustomed to final days of hardship.

“When the final whistle goes there, there’s a massive sense of relief,” admitted Moran.

“Let’s call it, let’s be honest about it. I’m playing since 2003, I made my debut in 2003 in the league up in Down.

“Is there a sense of relief for me? Yes, but for the team more so because we’ve been on the road really since 2011, this group of players, adding young fellas into it as we go along.

“I still remember losing one in ’07 to Donegal and that was a hard one to take. I suppose we’re here 12 years later winning one so it’s great.

“If you asked me this morning what does this mean to me, I’d have said, ‘It was just another game’.

“But then (Ciarán) Tracey bangs the net, the ref blows it up and the green and red of Mayo goes then and you’re thinking, ‘That’s a different story’.

“So listen, all it makes you do is want to hear it again.”

Andy Moran and Ciaran Treacy celebrates Andy Moran with Mayo goalscorer Ciarán Treacy after the game. James Crombie / INPHO James Crombie / INPHO / INPHO

The victory was characterised by the input of newcomers in the Mayo team.

“I think if you were picking the team now in the morning without question you’d have Mattie Ruane there, Fionn McDonagh who had a fantastic national league until he got injured, (and) Michael Plunkett.

“James (Carr) had a lot of problems with his hips over the last couple of years but it’s great to see him playing and in that third quarter really turning it on. Darren Coen (was) excellent last week against Drew Wylie. It’s unreal, the competition is huge.

“But I said it before, it’s not just one year. These guys have been in for three or four years. Mattie’s been in since ’16 when he won ((an) U21, he just need to put on that bit of bulk to get him strong enough to play around the middle of the field.

“This year it’s really came and I suppose with the re-introduction of James and the way he likes to play football, it really suits Mattie.”

The league closes and the championship will soon dawn but an absent force was not far from Moran’s mind when asked to assess the 2019 landscape.

“Ah Dublin are ahead of everyone else until they’re beaten. The good thing was Tyrone went and beat them in Croke Park, it was a big result.

“It’s great to see Mayo and Kerry in the final, Galway competing, Tyrone competing with Dublin, that’s brilliant. That’s just good for the game and hopefully now over the next couple of years, it can push on and be really more competitive.”

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