Retired Kerry footballer David Moran. Ramsey Cardy/SPORTSFILE
Moving On

'Enjoyable but strange' - Kerry great adjusting to supporter's role after 2023 retirement

David Moran was a long-serving midfielder with Kerry for 14 years.

THREE-TIME ALL-Ireland winner David Moran says adjusting to life as a fan rather than a player for Kerry has been an “enjoyable but strange” experience.

The long-serving midfielder announced his inter-county retirement at the start of this year, bringing down the curtain on a decorated 14 years in a Kerry jersey.

He stepped away after helping his county to Sam Maguire glory last year, but as Jack O’Connor’s side continue their All-Ireland defence in a semi-final battle with Derry on Sunday afternoon, he says that personal and professional factors contributed to his exit.

“It wasn’t entirely a football decision. We had a second child in February, we’re busy with CSG in work. It wasn’t just a case of, ‘Can I go in and make a difference?’ That’s a factor; if I thought I wasn’t going to make a difference then there’d be no decision. I just didn’t think I was going to be able to keep it all going. At this stage of my life, I just felt it wouldn’t be fair for my family life and work life to suffer anymore.”

When asked if the relief of capturing a third All-Ireland influenced his thinking, Moran added:

“I didn’t win an All-Ireland and say, ‘Ok, I’ve it done now, I can retire.’ Part of me was saying, ‘It would be great to win another one.’ But it was a decision I had to make. I probably thought I was going to finish at 2021 but we got to the county final and I got injured. By the time I had come back, I was in good enough shape to keep going in to training, and it just made sense to keep going.”

Diarmuid O’Connor and Jack Barry are now the first-choice pairing at midfield for Kerry. Both players started last year’s All-Ireland final as did Moran, with the Kerins O’Rahilly’s man partnering Barry in the centre of the field.

Stepping away from the Kingdom squad at the outset of this season, Moran knew that Barry would carry on the torch efficiently alongside his clubmate O’Connor.

“I played a lot of football with Jack and he’s a great teammate. The two guys are obviously club mates so they were probably delighted to see me gone so they could play together.

“Diarmuid is a phenomenal talent. He won two All-Ireland minors and it’s unrealistic to think that someone is going to walk in at 21 or 22 and dominate an inter-county midfield but he’s coming in at a good age now. He’s got a really good work ethic so it’s exciting times with Diarmuid. He showed the last day what he can do and for his own sake, he’s just trying to put in a performance back-to-back.”

Kerry’s form has been mixed for much of 2023, slumping to a Round 1 defeat against Mayo in the All-Ireland series before producing an unconvincing victory over Cork. However, the defending champions caught fire against Tyrone, delivering an explosive 12-point victory.

“These are the same really talented players that were there last year. I don’t think they’re going to be bad players overnight. I don’t think the individual performances against Tyrone were outliers from what they’re capable of. I believed that performance was in the team and coming into that, it wasn’t as impressive as you would like. I was confident that if they performed they’d get the right result.

“I don’t think Kerry went out to lose to Mayo because they weren’t peaking. I wouldn’t say training would be tailored so they wouldn’t be peaking. It just happens that you hit form at the right time. I suppose as you go on in the year, the standard goes up and I believe the Kerry players are expected to survive at a high level.”

David Moran was speaking ahead of the AIB GAA Senior Football Championship semi-finals

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