The 2017 Footballer of the Year Andy Moran returned to training with Mayo last weekend to begin preparations for his 17th inter-county season.
But despite having made more appearances for the Westerners than any other footballer, Moran admits that he felt ‘intimidated’ walking into a meeting with new Mayo manager James Horan recently.
“Someone gave me a right cheeky comment when I walked into the meeting – ‘You could be some of these fellas’ fathers!’ When I did look around, I thought, ‘yeah’” smiled Moran.
“I’m 35 years of age now, and you have probably have more uncertainty now than you had when you were younger.
“You’ve 15 or 20 lads there who want your place and are able to go training hard and pushing it in November.
“Walking into the Mayo dressing room a few weeks ago was probably the most intimidated I was walking into any Mayo dressing room.
“It’s a funny one, it probably goes full circle,” added the father-of-two from Ballaghaderreen.
“You start off being really intimidated, then the chest is out for a few years, and then you end up being really intimidated again.
“So it’s a difficult position, but I would love to think that I could help some of these young lads to move forward.
“People might say, ‘Oh that’s very noble of you’ but it’s very selfish of me too. Because I get a kick out of that too.
Moran has played under six different Mayo management teams since he made his National League debut back in 2003, including James Horan for four seasons.
The former Mayo captain was invited in for a trial game by Horan last month and says he had ‘no hesitation’ once the call came.
“We’ve had a lot of managers at this stage, so I’ve gone through this a few times. Knowing James [Horan], I knew there was a possibility that maybe it might not happen. But he rang me, we had a good chat, went through what we wanted from the year, and it was all positive.
“I had no hesitation then, once I knew he wanted me back.”
During the course of an action-packed and very successful career, Moran has won eight Connacht SFC medals and two All Stars as well as the ‘Footballer of the Year’ accolade.
He has already identified some individual and collective goals and objectives for next year.
“I think we haven’t won a trophy for a long time so we need to concentrate on the FBD, and that’s not breaking it down into silly stuff. That’s being serious,” he explained.
“We have the first round of the national league here at the end of January against Roscommon, a massive game. That’s a huge game for us.
“Hopefully we get to see a few new fellas and the older fellas show the enthusiasm to go at it.
“You’ve a new manager, we’re working really hard on the stuff that James has identified that we need to work on, hopefully the supporters feed off that and then it all starts going.
“Last year is parked and you can move forward.
“I would say that the ambition is to try and get on to the bloody team, make an impact in the FBD, and then try and win that first league game.”
* Andy Moran was speaking to promote the strategic partnership between his gym, ‘The Movement’ in Castlebar with the ‘Evolution Fitness Group’ which will be rolled out over the coming months in Mayo.