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'Having my little man on the field there made this a little sweeter' - Moran's Kerry glory

The veteran midfielder is toasting his third All-Ireland senior win.

David Moran and his son Eli lift the Sam Maguire.
David Moran and his son Eli lift the Sam Maguire.
Image: James Crombie/INPHO

THE ENDURING PRESENCE for Kerry football on All-Ireland final day.

You could go back 16 years for David Moran’s first sample of the grandeur of the occasion, a minor player then in the Kerry story.

He came on as a sub in the 2008 final loss, came on as a sub in the 2009 final win, missed 2011 through injury, was a towering figure in the 2014 success, started in the 2015 and 2019 defeats, before emerging on the right side of the result again on Sunday.

Three Celtic Crosses collected over a period spanning 13 years. Hard-earned accolades.

Naturally content after the latest when asked to compare them.

“It is like choosing your favourite kid. They are all sweet but they are all very different. This year, I came back from injury and I was kinda hanging on the lads’ coattails a little bit. It was great to see them driving on. But having my little man on the field there yesterday made this a little sweeter too.”

View it from the outside and it appears more demanding for Moran than most to fulfill his duties as an inter-county footballer, a partner in Casey Stephenson Accountants in Tralee and a new arrival in his young son Eli in recent years.

But the 34-year-old views it differently, experiencing enough twists and turns in his Kerry journey to savour a day like Sunday.

“They’re great problems I have. Playing an All-Ireland final and your son is on the field and work is going well. When I was a minor in 06, I was at the function when they won it. I was training in 07, wasn’t in the squad, and they won it. I came in in 08, and we lost the final. Then in 09, we won it.

“And I was thinking this is going to last forever. And then it didn’t. I had come in through that, so I know that it just doesn’t happen every year. Eight years is obviously a very long time in Kerry and having lost in 15 and 19, it was extra sweet this one.

“From ‘15, I couldn’t believe the change. When they said there were only four players from ‘14, I couldn’t believe it.

“Jack keeps talking about the panel mentality and there is a lot of that, it is very collective and there is real unity there. And the younger lads brought a bit of freshness. So, it just feels as if I am part of the squad, like anyone else.”

david-moran-and-his-son-eli-with-paul-murphy David Moran with his son Eli and fellow 2014 senior winner Paul Murphy. Source: James Crombie/INPHO

Recent setbacks crop up in his mind. ‘A very bad bout of tonsillitis’ hit him the night after the semi-final over Dublin. He missed training but only for about a week and was able to take his place in the starting fifteen against Galway.

A wider chunk of action had been missed earlier in the campaign, the legacy of that torn groin he suffered in the early minutes of last December’s county final with Kerins O’Rahillys.

“I didn’t realise it at the time, to be honest. It did come off the bone, I was lucky I didn’t need surgery but it was a four or five month injury. At the time I thought I would just get back but it wasn’t getting better and then I had a little bit of a setback and that kept me out of the league. But I am sitting here the morning after an All-Ireland so it worked out fine.

diarmuid-oconnor-celebrates-after-the-game-with-david-moran Diarmuid O'Connor celebrates after the game with David Moran. Source: Ryan Byrne/INPHO

“When you are in there, you are pushing as hard as you can, it was up to Jack and the lads to decide how to use me. I wanted to play as much as I could. Jack Barry getting injured just opened the door for someone. Sure look, yesterday wasn’t my best performance but it didn’t really matter because we won.

“I have had so many injuries now and I have got back from all of them. Once you do the rehab, you get back. We had access to the best medical guys around and I was told that if you do this rehab, you will get back. I just trusted that I would.”

He witnessed changes on the sideline this year but familiar faces returned. His old club and county manager Jack O’Connor. His club-mate and former team-mate Mike Quirke.

“It made a huge difference. Mike and I are club mates so the fact that he came on board was like swapping Tommy (Walsh) out and Mike in. I had worked with Jack before, a lot of the lads hadn’t or had him as a minor, which is different.

“He was hoping that I would come back and he saw me as a big part of their plans. It wasn’t like I was coming back to play wing-back. I was coming back to be a midfielder. That was the main thing. His football IQ is very, very sharp. Very good at analysing situations and teams, style of play.”

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jack-oconnor-celebrates-after-the-game-with-david-moran Jack O'Connor celebrates after Kerry's win over Dublin with David Moran. Source: Laszlo Geczo/INPHO

It was O’Connor at the helm when Kerry finally snapped that losing streak at the hands of Dublin in the recent semi-final, a run of five defeats in the championship arena since 2009 that Moran had a front-row view of.

“Yeah, it was sweet, really was. They were a fantastic team, they still are, and it was just something the squad couldn’t do, couldn’t get over the line against them. Yeah, it was a nice one, if you win All-Ireland beating Mayo and Dublin along the way, given that they have contested the most finals in the last while, it is the way you want to do it.”

Moran’s previous two finals wins were on 20 September 2009 and 21 September 2014. Triumphing two months earlier in the calendar rests easy with him.

“It’s definitely better for a player. You’re going back in with the club and potentially an off season. It’s brilliant for a player.”

“If you’ve a good win, you lose all momentum after four or five weeks of training, especially when the summer games come in and other teams are coming through the qualifiers and getting a bit of momentum and well battle-hardened. no-one wants that – certainly not the players anyway.”

Stephen O’Brien told the story after Sunday’s game of how Moran greeted Kerry’s youngsters with a ‘Welcome to the club’ message in the dressing-room after they landed their first All-Ireland senior crown.

Moran played with some of Kerry’s most illustrious names earlier in his career, he sees the same stardust in the current heroes David Clifford and Seán O’Shea.

“I was privileged to play with two great forward lines, across two eras. There is a lot of similarities in terms of their talent and their work ethic and they are very clear thinkers on the field. It is only their first All-Ireland, I am sure they will want to kick on and win more if they can.”

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Fintan O'Toole

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