Philosophical Moran willing to do whatever it takes

The Kerins O’Rahillys man admits that, turning 34 on June 29, he is far more philosophical about life, and football, these days.
Philosophical Moran willing to do whatever it takes

Allianz Football League Division 1 South, Dr. Hyde Park, Roscommon 30/5/2021 Roscommon vs Kerry Kerry’s David Moran warms up Mandatory Credit ©INPHO/James Crombie

David Moran was buzzing. It was Sunday, December 5, and Kerins O’Rahillys were back in the Kerry County SFC Final. Not only that, as they strove to end their 19-year title drought, Austin Stacks were the opposition. The Narries v The Rockies. There was an electric atmosphere in Tralee.

Within five minutes of the throw-in, Moran’s day was over. Having already lost Gavin O’Brien in the warm-up, the Strand Road side were rocked to the core when their talismanic midfielder succumbed to a groin injury. Despite a valiant effort for the rest of the afternoon, the Bishop Moynihan Cup would end up being paraded on Rock Street.

While the terrible disappointment of losing to your biggest rivals was bad enough, little did the experienced Kerry stalwart realise at the time that he would be set for an extended spell on the sidelines that would see him miss the entire National League campaign this year. It was a terribly frustrating period for the 33-year-old.

“Very frustrating, but I’m around long enough to know now that’s all part of it. It’s not the first time either. I just tore a bit of the adductor off the bone in my groin. It was an awkward, funny one. I’d no issue with it before, but these things happen,” he said.

“It was (one of the worst places for it to happen), especially when we lost Gavin O’Brien so early in the warm-up as well. And the nature of the game as well, it was great, two Tralee teams, it hadn’t happened in so long, and such a great build-up and we were going so well. We hadn’t been there in a while, it was very frustrating the way it worked out.” 

Embarking on his detailed rehab programme in the aftermath of the county final defeat, Moran was expecting to return to action at some stage during Kerry’s subsequent march to National League success under returning manager Jack O’Connor. However, that didn’t happen. Being named on the matchday 26 against Mayo in the decider was the closest he would get.

Gingerly making his comeback for a half of football in a County League game against Spa in April, the light at the end of the tunnel, and the sign that the hard slog of the recuperation process had been worthwhile, was his introduction off the bench for the last 20 minutes in the green and gold jersey at Páirc Uí Rinn on May 7. Moran felt good to be back.

“I was excited about getting back in. When I played against Spa in the County League, it was literally just trying not to get injured, seeing could I get through a half. I knew that, coming on against Cork, that I’d have to perform. It wouldn’t be good enough just to stay injury-free, so I was excited by that,” he said.

“Any chance you’re playing Cork below in Cork in a Kerry jersey it’s brilliant. I was excited. There was obviously a great buzz in the group after the league and I really wanted to feel part of it. When you come back from injury you appreciate it a little bit more, after a few weeks then you forget about it and you’re back as if you were never away.” 

With his confidence further bolstered by coming through a full 60 minutes on club duty against Rathmore since then, Moran is now preparing himself for Saturday’s Munster final against Limerick at Fitzgerald Stadium (3pm). Having been an automatic pick at midfield for several seasons, he understands that it won’t be easy to break up the Na Gaeil partnership of Jack Barry and Diarmuid O’Connor.

However, having come through so many different setbacks throughout his lengthy inter-county senior career (two cruciate knee ligament tears and a serious eye problem immediately spring to mind), the Kerins O’Rahillys man admits that, turning 34 on June 29, he is far more philosophical about life, and football, these days.

“They’re two fantastic footballers, and all I can do is play as well as I can. If my role is to start, if my role is to come on, lend experience, I’m at a stage now where I’m trying to enjoy it. I’ve only five or six years left!” he quipped.

“To be honest with you, I’m maybe more philosophical, or whatever it is, I’m just trying to enjoy it a lot more as opposed to coming home after a bad session and being unbearable to live with. I’m trying to enjoy it and the lads are obviously hugely athletic, they’re in the prime of their careers, and it’s a serious challenge going out every Tuesday and Thursday night, but I’ll give it everything I have.” 

It’s a nice situation for O’Connor and his management team to be in. While the Na Gaeil duo have developed their burgeoning partnership in recent months, Moran showed against Cork that he still has a huge role to play if Kerry are to find themselves lifting the trophy they all want at Croke Park in late July. Fully fit and still as hungry as ever, he is champing at the bit.

“When it gets down to it, it’s impossible not to (think about getting a place on the starting 15). When you’re playing a training game, you’re not going to be going ‘I don’t want to get injured here’. In theory I’d be saying ‘oh, at least I didn’t get injured tonight’, but if you played bad in training that night it’s very hard not to be like a dog.

“My aim is for Kerry to win the All-Ireland. Anything I can do in that regard, I’m willing to do. Everyone wants to start. In my head somewhere, I think that if I start I can last the day. It’s a case of could I get my running enough or whatever to try and last.

“I am at a stage in my career where I just want Kerry to win, and if Jack and them feel that it’s coming off the bench, I might not be the happiest man in the world when the team is picked, or I might be, but I’m more than willing to do anything that he feels is better.”

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