David Moran Q&A: "There was a time when it was a cliche to say it was a squad game, when it really wasn't. Now it actually is."

There’s scarcely a more imposing midfield pairing in the country than Anthony Maher and his sidekick David Moran. Or is that the other way round. The 27-year-old Tralee man is finally getting the reviews his work ethic merits.

David Moran Q&A: "There was a time when it was a cliche to say it was a squad game, when it really wasn't. Now it actually is."

Q: Provide the backdrop to the picture of you celebrating with your parents Anne and Ogie following last year’s All-Ireland final.

A: I’d say my father had phantom pains when I had the knee injuries. I think families go through so much. It was great for me to be playing. But I think all the families go through it just as much, it’s even harder, they’re looking through their fingers above in the stand. So look I think we all win together, we all lose together.

Q: How are the knees holding up these days?

A: You’d be naturally very sore just from the whole thing. I’m living in Cork so the driving, you’d get quite stiff after that. I just try to banish it out of my head, I try to go along as if I never had any knee trouble. I don’t want to ever use it as a crutch or anything, I want to forget about it.

Q: You have company in the drive over from Cork this year?

A: Tommy [Walsh] and I work together in Ernst and Young in Cork. We’d drive up and down to training together so it’s great. I went from not seeing him at all to now he’s working in the same place as me as well so I’m sick of him already. It’s fantastic. It’s scary looking at him, I need to get in to the gym a bit more.

Q: You followed him out to Australia after the 2008 All-Ireland final defeat to Tyrone?

A: After we lost to Tyrone, the two of us were meant to go over to St Kilda but I didn’t go because I had exams. Tommy went out and they saw him and saw what shape he was in, so I think he had signed before he went out in 2009. I went out then in 2009, I was kind of on trial and he wasn’t so I went out and gave it three weeks. I wasn’t good enough and didn’t get a contract so I came back. No regrets, I really enjoyed it.

Q: Had a contract been put in front of you, would you have been tempted to stay on?

A: I would have. I came back, I played the Munster club final and drove on. We lost that by a point, I kicked eight wides.

Q: The tables have turned now in comparison with 2009; your a first-team regular whereas Tommy is struggling to break into the starting XV.

A: There’s a lot of football to be played before the year is out and I’ve no doubt he’ll play a huge part like he did against Kildare.

Q: How savage is the fight for a jersey numbered one to 15?

A: The fact that Bryan [Sheehan] was playing so well in centre-forward, took a lot of pressure off us [at midfield]. There was a time when it was a cliché to say it was a squad game, when it really wasn’t. Now it actually is. You need a big squad to win games, where fellas are coming off the bench. I think Declan O’Sullivan really showed that last year - a guy of his experience, his quality, and he came in and done such a good job. He kind of changed that role. Fellas just want to win. Everybody just wants to start but if you don’t you have to put your shoulder to the wheel for Kerry. Peter [Crowley] and Kieran [O’Leary] were dropped for the Munster final last year. We came in [during the quarter-final] and finished strong. I think we were a case study that it does happen. People get injured in a game, you need to be ready.

Q: How ruthless is Eamonn Fitzmaurice?

A: I’d say everyone’s afraid of their life with Eamonn. In fairness, he set out his stall, said everyone was going to be picked on training and was very public about it. If you are going to say it, then you have to do it. Guys would get disillusioned and frustrated, so that was their stall. They have done that.

Q The emphasis for Sunday’s opponents, Tyrone, would be more on defence than midfield, would you agree?

A: It seems to be that they are very good structurally defensively. I think even more so now. I remember when I first came in marking Kevin Hughes, thinking, ‘this is a different ball game altogether, welcome to senior football’. But I must say, their kick-outs the last day against Monaghan were very good. They dropped a lot of boys back but as soon as Monaghan scored they came back down the field and cancelled it out straight away. That wasn’t all short kick-outs, they were kicking to men and maybe they didn’t have two guys out there hiking it out to them as much, but they do an awful lot of running through midfield, especially the two wing-forwards coming back.

Q: Do you enjoy playing against northern opposition?

A: At the end of the day, it’s an All-Ireland semi-final. Last year, it was an All-Ireland final. You couldn’t but enjoy it. If this is a three points to two game, and we win it and we are into an All-Ireland final, we will have enjoyed ourselves immensely. I think at this stage we just want to get to the final. Obviously, we would love to play open football, but if it means we can win playing tight, compact, getting quick ball into our forwards, then we are happy.

Q: Jack O’Connor believes Kerry’s ability to find the target from distance will negate Tyrone’s defensive approach. Is adaptability Kerry’s greatest weapon?

A: It’s a team game and there’ll probably be situations out in the game the next day where fellas are going to have to adapt. We might set up some way, it’s not working and we’re going to have to change it. As time goes on we’re going to have to be mature enough, the players, to be able to do that on the team and if that means backs or any of the runners coming through kicking scores, that has to be done. We’ve been blessed at the moment to have such good forwards and ideally we’d like them to keep scoring but if it doesn’t happen, it doesn’t happen. We just need to find an alternative way to score more than them.

Q: Darragh Ó Sé said last year that you have more ability than he ever had. How does such a comparison sit with you?

A: It’s a huge honour to be in that company, but I’ve a long way to go. I suppose I’m just going to keep the head down, work as hard as I can and do as well as I can.

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