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'You just feel helpless. I was kind of shocked' - Kerry veteran returns after club injury setback

David Moran is gearing up for Saturday’s Munster final.

David Moran in action for Kerry recently against Cork.
David Moran in action for Kerry recently against Cork.
Image: James Crombie/INPHO

IN THE 50TH minute in Páirc Uí Rinn a couple of weeks back, David Moran was summoned from the Kerry bench.

His presence was required to wrestle back midfield control for Kerry, a decision that helped pave the way for their dominance over Cork until the final whistle.

A Munster semi-final win away to old rivals felt good for the collective, for Moran getting a run out on the pitch was a personal boost as well.

For Kerry’s longest-serving operator it has been an ordeal of late on the injury front, a couple of recent club league games with Kerins O’Rahillys proving his only form of meaningful action in months.

“It’s been very frustrating, but I’m around long enough to know now that’s all part of it,” says Moran.

“It’s not the first time I have been injured either.”

He’s battled back previously from such setbacks as a pair of cruciate injuries but this latest setback still stung.

It can all be traced to last December, a Sunday when Tralee football commanded the spotlight as the cross town rivals from Strand Road and Rock Street faced off in a novel decider.

“I just tore a bit of the abductor off the bone in my groin. It was an awkward funny one.

“I remember I was coming across and I was saying ‘I’m under pressure here’ and then Tommy [Walsh] said ‘run in there full-forward’. I said ‘I actually can’t’. I knew then I was in trouble and I’m sitting on the side line going ‘I can’t believe I’m done here’.

“It was [one of the worst places for it to happen], especially when we lost Gavin O’Brien so early in the warm-up as well. And the nature of the game as well. It was great, two Tralee teams, it hadn’t happened in so long.

“You just feel helpless. I was kind of shocked. Of all the things you’d imagine coming into the game, I never imagined that happening, but look, that’s life.”

The three-point loss was compounded by an injury that was slow to heal and stalled his plans with Kerry for 2022.

“I wasn’t even thinking of this year at the time. I was just enjoying Christmas. I was trying to figure out if I needed surgery. The science said that the modern way of doing it was that unless it gets more than a certain level that you have to get it reattached, but luckily I wasn’t that bad.

“At the start I didn’t realise when I was back talking to Jack (O’Connor), that I wouldn’t be able to come back when I wanted. I didn’t think I wouldn’t be playing any of the league, but I’ve had so many injuries that I think I’ll come back if you put in the work.

“Once I got my medical plan, it was to try and be in contention for the last couple of league games. Then I had a set-back and that ruled me out. The nature of the league is that if you miss three weeks it’s like missing three months of the championship because it’s so condensed.”

Kerry progressed through the spring to be crowned league champions, but Moran found the split season of benefit.

“It’s strange because if it happened two years ago I’d have had the whole club championship in April and it would have been different, but I think it’s way better this way. I prefer it this way. It is very difficult for players to have the club championship in the middle.

“I just think it’s difficult when you’re training with Kerry during the week and playing with the club on the weekend, because Kerry’s game is a few months out, you might be doing a different type of training. That’s the hardest thing on players.

“I really enjoyed the bit of being all in with Kerry and then going back and having a good (club) championship run. It’s good fun. I like being all-in on either group.”

Trying to plot a path into the starting team is not straightforward, the Na Gaeil combo of Diarmuid O’Connor and Jack Barry have locked down the midfield spots to date.

“They’re two fantastic footballers. If my role is to start, if my role is to come on, lend experience, I’m at a stage now where I’m trying to enjoy it. To be honest with you I’m maybe more philosophical, or what it is, I’m just trying to enjoy it a lot more as opposed to coming home after a bad session and being unbearable to live with.

“The lads are obviously hugely athletic, they’re in the prime of their careers and, it’s a serious challenge going out every Tuesday and Thursday night, but I’ll give it everything I have and whatever role Jack wants I’m more than happy to do it. My aim is for Kerry to win the All Ireland. Anything I can do in that regard I’m willing to do.”

He has plenty sounding boards around him.

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“Family is obviously very important. Myself and Tommy [Walsh] are obviously very close, when we were in the set up. This year is probably a little bit different with Tommy (retired)

“I’ve always been open enough with managers. I’ve been lucky that way. It’s probably easier this year in that if I had something I could go to Mike Quirke, who’s obviously a good friend of mine. When Peter [Keane] was there I had plenty of chats with him good or bad, Éamonn [Fitzmaurice] and Jack no different.

“Usually your family will be biased towards you, which is natural. You’d be giving out if they weren’t. Probably my father, but when you play bad in training I know I was bad and I’m more disappointed. It’s probably Sineád [his wife] at home or my family. Less so people outside the group, it’s difficult to disclose anything.”

Saturday’s Munster final draws Limerick towards Killarney with Moran the only player with first-hand experience of facing the county at a similar stage back in 2010.

Limerick have recovered from a barren spell to enjoy an upswing in their fortunes.

“They had a phenomenal team that time. They had some really, really good players. John Galvin was as good a midfielder as there was in the country at that time, as he showed on that day.

“It can happen sometimes when you’ve got a really good group who are there for ten years, maybe the young guys coming through don’t get a chance and you miss half a generation. I don’t know what way it works out, but the way it’s worked out we’ve ended up playing Clare a lot in recent times and Tipp and stuff.

“They’re certainly back in now. Billy Lee’s obviously after doing an unbelievable job. They’re back in Division 2. They’re in a Munster final. They’re in a very good place.”

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Murt Murphy

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