There are other exemptions. As has regularly been the case these last four or five seasons, managers have made squad players available to the media. Talk about taking one for the team! They mightn’t get a sniff of the action but at least they’re doing their bit. Such men’s words are seen early in the week and quickly forgotten about.
Today Barry Moran finds himself in the newspapers a little earlier than one might expect of a player who was more than dutiful in his new sweeping berth against Donegal. As engaging a story as the Castlebar Mitchels man’s is, he might not retain a starting role this Sunday. Of course, he could be drafted in late as he was the last day but then Dublin’s full-forward line asks different questions and he may be surplus to requirements.
He’s not oblivious to that reality either. “It really is horses for courses. So what worked against Donegal obviously isn’t going to work against Dublin. Two totally different teams. They line out differently as well.
“So we’ll be trying out a few different things to see what best suits the needs of the Dublin team. But it’s a totally different game and I’m sure the lads will go with something that they feel will combat the threat that Dublin have. They’re two different teams, two different styles of how they play, so it will take something different to what we played against Donegal.”
In a panel where there is an over-abundance of midfielders and Aidan O’Shea has had to make a home elsewhere, Moran has learned to be malleable to persuasion about a different role. How could he not? “My bread and butter would be midfield, and if you don’t make the starting midfield, you’re disappointed — I would always look to take that. But at the same time, when the lads come up with a different way or different role, you have to go with it and make sure that, what they want you to do, you have a firm understanding.
“But four into two doesn’t go. We played all our four or five big men against Donegal, and I’ve no idea what way we’re going to line out against Dublin. They (the management) might go with something similar like that or they might go with something completely different. But, from my point of view, all you can do is keep going and try and nail your position down and go from there.
“While you’re disappointed for yourself that you don’t get into midfield, the first thing you have to do is row in behind your mates. Séamie (O’Shea) or Tom (Parsons) or Aidan or whoever gets in ahead of you … you’re disappointed for yourself but you have to maybe bottle that up and say to them, ‘Look, anything you need, I’m there for you.’ That’s all you can do.”
Not starting the Connacht games was frustrating for Moran but he’s learned to persevere. His best season came in 2012 when he was nominated for an All Star, missing out on the award because of an indifferent All-Ireland final. He was there too in 2006 when Ciarán McDonald’s score sank Dublin at this same stage but it was a forgettable game personally as he came on only to be taken off. Between then and 2012, his time in a Mayo jersey was sparse because of a series of injuries.
“I think it’s the running joke among the lads but there was a couple of years there where I just didn’t basically play, full stop, because of injuries. I suppose it’s credit to the S&C (strength and conditioning) over the last couple of years and the lads we have in there in the medical that they got me right. Maybe when I first came in, I probably didn’t look after myself as well as I should… you were picking up constant injuries. But that kind of thing has stepped back, and the body is fit.
“It’s just trying to get my foot in the door and make sure you make the most of it should I get the opportunity against Dublin.”