Moran: My plan was never to lose to the Rossies

Until last weekend, Andy Moran had made it through his entire Mayo football career without losing to Roscommon in the Championship.

That means a lot when you play your club football with Ballaghaderreen and live there, the town located in Roscommon but attached to Mayo for GAA purposes.

A section of Roscommon supporters during the county’s 2017 All-Ireland quarter-final draw with Mayo they booed him throughout the game.

A statement by Roscommon GAA which claimed the behaviour has ‘no place in Gaelic games or indeed any sport’ was subsequently released.

“I come from a town where you are stuck right on the border and it’s a tough game any day you play, it’s the first time I’ve ever lost to Roscommon so it’s a tough one on a personal level,” said former Footballer of the Year Moran.

“I live in Ballaghaderreen but I work in Castlebar so it’s early mornings getting out of there!

"Ah to be honest, it’s been very good, even leaving the pitch the last day you’d be worried a bit (about the reaction) but it was very good.”

Moran, 35 and perhaps in his last year with Mayo, admitted it had been his plan to avoid ever losing to Roscommon in the Championship.

“That was the plan alright but there might be another twist in the tale yet, you never know,” he said.

Moran’s All-Ireland dream remains alive despite Mayo failing to reach the Connacht final.

They will enter Round 2 of the qualifiers and from there it will take at least eight more games, and possibly eight wins, to claim the All-Ireland the county craves.

Asked if it’s still achievable, Moran said: “Yeah, 100%. You have to get into that Super 8s format, it’s key. We have three games to get there, a game in three weeks’ time, and I can’t stress enough that that first game is a difficult game. 

You just have to focus 100% on winning that. Is it (winning the All-Ireland) achievable? 100% it is. But the first game is the key.

In past seasons, Mayo have struggled at the early stages of the back door series, beating Fermanagh narrowly in 2016 and requiring extra-time to get past Derry in 2017.

They demolished Limerick in Round 1 last year but then had to come from behind to shrug off Tipperary before losing to Kildare.

“The key is the first game, you’ve got to win the first game, then of course you’ve got to win the second and the third,” said Moran.

“So you can think ahead and hope to play five games in five weeks or whatever it is, but you’ve literally just got to win that first game.

“You’ve seen it over the years, there’s always a Longford, a Carlow, there’s always teams coming along really trying to win that first game.”

Moran is optimistic about Mayo’s chances though.

“We’ve got the benefit of all the young players coming through in the league and then the benefit of the older players who are slightly injured coming back, so hopefully we’ll have the likes of Tom (Parsons) back, we’ll have Cillian (O’Connor) back, Donie Vaughan, Fionn McDonagh, Seamie O’Shea will hopefully be back for part of it,” he said.

“So we have the depth of a good squad there and that’s where if you do go on this run, five games in five weeks, it will really help.”

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