Reigning Footballer of the Year Andy Moran has admitted he acted out of character when he remonstrated with referee Maurice Deegan last month and says he was “disappointed” with his actions.
The normally mild-mannered Mayo forward argued with Deegan during their stormy Allianz League loss to Tyrone and was black-carded for his protests.
An irate Moran appeared to make contact with Deegan during the flashpoint and various Dublin figures drew parallels between the incident and Diarmuid Connolly’s situation last summer.
Dubliner Connolly was hit with a 12-week suspension for laying a hand on linesman Ciaran Branagan during an altercation in their Championship win over Carlow.
In Moran’s case, he lost his cool in an ill-tempered game that included two red cards and yielded worrying injuries for Mayo duo Lee Keegan and Cillian O’Connor.
The Mayo star also appeared to allude to the passing of his father, Vincent, in February when he said he had “a lot going on in my life at the time”.
Moran said: “To be honest with you I would be disappointed with the way I remonstrated with Maurice at the time. I took my punishment. I got it. And that’s the way it is.
“I’d be very disappointed. It’s not me, the way I kind of gave out to him. It is what it is. I got my punishment and I took it.”
Asked what exactly he was arguing about at the time, Moran shrugged.
“We are being honest here, we are grown men — I had a lot going on in my life at the time. I think it probably... it was so (out of character)... you’ve watched me playing for a long time. I don’t think I’ve ever reacted to (a referee). I’ve never been sent off in my life.
“I think it must have been kind of external things that must have been going on in my life or something. I don’t really know to be honest.”
Moran agreed with the suggestion he’s had a tough few months.
“I have, but no more so than anyone else,” said the 34-year-old. “I’m not looking for any sympathy for it. That’s just the way it is. Life waits for no-one.”
It has been notable how many players have been sent off in games against Mayo this year. There were four players dismissed against the 2016 and 2017 All-Ireland finalists in the FBD League pre-season competition and seven more in the Allianz League.
Monaghan, Kerry, Galway, Dublin, and Tyrone all finished shorthanded against Mayo in the league but Moran played down the idea of a pattern emerging.
“I would say there was probably a lot of red cards in the league in general,” said Moran. “What happens, I believe, in these conditions is that the ball slows down, there’s more physical contact. If you go to Croke Park, you put the ball out in front of your man, your man is gone, you’ve no chance to hit him.
“If the ball is put on the ground at all, you’ve to bend, you’ve to stoop, there’s someone coming in hitting you. I think it leads to more aggression.
“If that type of coming together happens, then all of a sudden there could be a half-melee or a one-on-one battle and that leads to red cards.
“Do I think it’s malicious or anything like that towards us? No, I don’t.”
Moran said Mayo’s injury list is clearing up nicely. Keegan is likely to miss the Connacht championship showdown with Galway on May 13 but O’Connor should be back.
Keith Higgins is involved again after hurling this spring while Chris Barrett and Donie Vaughan are available for selection after sitting out the league.
Brendan Harrison and Evan Regan will be fit for the Galway game too after injuries.
Moran said drawing with Donegal to hold onto their Division 1 status was sweet with all those players missing. And he reckons being forced to experiment has paid off.
“All of a sudden now we’ve got two corner-backs in Caolan Crowe and Eoin O’Donoghue,” said Moran. “Conor Loftus stood up in a huge way in Donegal and took the frees. And Stephen Coen had a huge National League. So, to me, that’s four players that really broke through during the league.”
The #AllIrelandSmiles roadshow will visit primary schools in Cork, Dublin, Kerry, and Mayo across the months of April and May to promote positive oral care in children between the ages of 5-12.
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