James Crombie/INPHO
David Moran

'End of an era, he owes Kerry nothing' - The Kingdom midfield general

The 34-year-old called time on his inter-county career this week.

THERE IS SYMMETRY between the start and the end of the David Moran senior story in Kerry colours.

On a Saturday night in early February 2008, Kerry trekked up to Ballybofey and handed a senior league debut to a 19-year-old at wing-forward.

That was the beginning of senior football day for Moran. Tomorrow Kerry return to MacCumhaill Park but Moran will be absent, the squad adjusting to life without him after he officially pulled the plug last Monday on his playing days.

Was the call a surprising one? Three weeks ago he was giving a tour de force in Croke Park of midfield play. During a particularly rousing last quarter, he seemed to will the game in his direction, almost fashioning an improbable comeback win for Kerins O’Rahillys.

The narrow view was to see him as a man set to plough his energies into the Kerry cause once more and yet there was a whole world outside the patch of grass between the two ‘45s that he patrolled.

“In one sense I’m not surprised,” says Killian Young, an All-Ireland U21 winning team-mate in 2008 and companion in senior dressing-rooms for years.

“From knowing him personally so well, with what’s going on off the field, his longevity has been incredible. His profession, having a child and having another on the way, so much going on. In county setups, longevity is rare. It’s a credit to him.

“From David’s perspective, there’d be a bit of realism as well. I think that day at inter-county level wouldn’t happen, I don’t think you’d have a keeper hitting the ball out to the middle as much. But he obviously had a massive game for Kerins O’Rahillys, they played to their strengths and knew they could rely on David in the air.

After 15 seasons in the midfield engine room, it is a shift in the Kerry mindset. The last member of the 2009 All-Ireland winning squad. He leaves only Paul Murphy, Stephen O’Brien and Paul Geaney behind from the group that lifted Sam in 2014.

“It’s the end of an era,” says John Kennedy, the minor manager back in 2006 when Moran first tasted an All-Ireland final experience with Kerry.

“Maybe the timing would be a bit surprising, how well he played for Kerins O’Rahillys a few weeks ago. But look he’s had a number of injuries and he’s other commitments.

“He certainly owes Kerry nothing. Some of the fetching against Kilmacud was awesome. If that is to be his last game in Croke Park, what a way to finish.”


Before he carved his own football reputation, there was a father’s legacy to be linked to. Being Ogie Moran’s son carries considerable weight in the Kerry football community.

Kennedy featured in the 1984 All-Ireland final victories over Dublin, Moran was a colossal figure in that attack. Having a fellow North Kerry man to lean on, helped with the bedding in process.

In time he heard of Ogie’s sons making waves in football waters and soon got a view for himself of the talent at play.

“Former players, when their sons start playing, there’s an expectation. There were a lot of rumours about David and his ability. Certainly he carried that through with Tralee CBS and the Kerry minors and U21s and then onto the seniors.

“He’d a lot of the traits Ogie had. A really nice guy off the field, an unassuming character. He never got carried away, that comes from the family. Even with a bit of success and fame, he stayed grounded and level-headed.

“I think it’s very important in a situation that a player like that gets their own niche in the team. He’s the player and not the father’s son. You’ve got to stand on your own two feet, David certainly did that. He’s been a tremendous ambassador for Kerry.”

Not that the path to success was straightforward. Moran retired with three All-Ireland senior medals, dotted throughout his career in ‘09, ‘14 and last July. There were All-Stars in 2014 and again five years later, a season which featured one of Kennedy’s favourite displays when Moran was in towering form against Tyrone.

But plenty challenges were encountered.
His performances caught the eye of St Kilda scouts in late 2009 and he was flown to Australia for a trial.

Then the injuries came tumbling down. His cruciate snapped for the first time in Inniskeen in April 2011 in a game against Monaghan, then again in a club training session in February 2012 when he was on the cusp of a comeback.
In May 2013 he came on in a challenge game where an innocuous challenge saw him tear the retina in his right eye.

“Doing the cruciate twice, the guy had to just go back and restart again,” says Young.

“After the second cruciate, I was concerned. I didn’t know if it was possible to get back to the heights that he got to.

“He’s broken all boundaries, that persistence to go and win for Kerry. To get back to the big stage is one of the biggest feats he’s done in his whole career to be honest.

“After that adversity you need to have that drive. He never knew what that outcome was going to be. He just pushed himself to the max.

“David is one of those guys that has reached out to a lot of people who had that injury. He’s the one to look up to when it comes to recovering.”

2014 was the sign of a corner being turned and his ability was blossoming into something substantial.

But that year was not the launchpad for a sustained period of Kerry success. They hit a roadblock repeatedly when colliding against a team of Dublin’s stellar talents. Moran found himself in the spotlight at crucial moments in games, a turnover against Dublin late on in the drawn 2019 final, a couple of point attempts short before Cork stunned them in 2020.

And yet his endurance brought him to the steps of the Hogan Stand last July, Sam Maguire in his right hand and his son Eli in his left.

“Persistence is what it’s about,” says Kennedy.

“You have a lot of ups and downs. There’ll be disappointments, David no more than anyone else, but it’s how you respond to it. It’s the resilience that he showed.

“He was a tremendous presence in the dressing-room. I knew that even from minor. There was something about David when he spoke.

“A lot of people can speak but it’s about carrying out what you say and David did that. Midfield has been a problem spot over a number of years for Kerry and David certainly bucked the trend.”


In football terms he represented something of a throwback. The catch and kick philosophy may appear simplistic, yet they were two core skills that Moran refined. If goalkeepers were not going to fire it down on top of him any more as patterns of play evolved, he put himself forward as an exponent of deliveries to inside attackers.

The spin away from Mayo cover underneath the Hogan Stand in the 2014 All-Ireland semi-final draw and the booming diagonal to Kieran Donaghy which translated to a James O’Donoghue finish for a priceless goal for Kerry.

“For such a big man, he really has a type of finesse about his passing and his range,” says Young.

“It was never a forced ball. When kickouts weren’t going long, I think David’s biggest impact on Kerry was his positivity on the ball. It was always a forward pass.

“I think he really took pride in it. He understood that was his highest value to Kerry, how he had an impact on Kerry’s attacking game. That was one of his strongest attributes and why he played for Kerry for so long. He was that link to the quality forwards Kerry have now and will be a loss.”

Moran stayed relevant in a changing game. There was a relentless streak to get that third Celtic Cross.

At times it may have appeared an easier call to step away but his role was still critical in a squad populated with emerging figures.

“It’s always been that consistency,” says Young.

“Doing the right things at the right time. That’s what brings that longevity. It’s one thing to stay in the squad but to have an influence on the team for so long. that’s a very hard thing to find at inter-county level. Within that Kerry group, they were young and did lack a bit of experience. David, what he brought to the squad and talking to players, he definitely was vital and he’ll be a huge loss in the dressing-room.”

Kennedy always got added value out of Moran’s exploits, just as he did watching the likes of Shane Enright, Tommy Walsh and Johnny Buckley progress from the minor class of ‘06.

“You have that affinity to these guys, you knew them personally. You were part of that development, no matter how big or small that was, you do associate yourself with them. Particularly with David and Tommy for me, having played with Ogie and Seanie, there was an extra kick there.”

The last day out was no bad way to finish.

From tearing some of the abductor off the bone of his groin in the early moments of the Kerry county final in December 2021 to celebrating on the Croke Park pitch seven and a half months later.

Still immersed in Kerry’s strive for success.

“Ending on a high is a rarity,” says Young.

“Like others you normally end up sitting on the bench, you’re watching the last year or two of your career finish out. So for David to have such a say in matters and actually win the All-Ireland, that’s a really special one.

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