County Kerry’s final day started to go wrong for him early on.
On the first Sunday of last December, Austin Stack Park was impatient as Tralee rivals Rock Street and Strand Road played a new decider, David Moran saw his involvement come to an early end.
Within minutes of the throw-in, Moran knew he was in trouble. He tried to play on but in the sixth minute he was forced to accept defeat and had to be substituted, destined to stand on the sidelines near the Kerins O’Rahillys dugout for the rest of the game and to watch.
“You just feel helpless, I was kind of shocked,” Moran recalled of the incident during a speech in May.
“Of all the things you would imagine coming into the game, I never would have imagined this happening.
“But look, that’s life.”
Moran had ripped part of the abductor from his groin bone, another head wound.
Kerins O’Rahillys missed out by three points, with the extent of the defeat particularly excruciating as they wondered what difference the presence of their talismanic midfielder would have made.
David Moran attends the County Kerry Final last year.
Credit: James Crombie/INPHO
He pulled back the curtain on a disappointing year. Kerry’s Sam Maguire ambitions were shattered in the semi-final by Tyrone, losing a point after extra time in September.
Moran watched on the bench at the final whistle of a marathon affair, having cleared out for Kerry’s cause. It was a familiar feeling with a league exit, Moran had been in the spotlight at crucial times in previous setbacks.
In 2019 they were held off in the final All-Ireland replay, Moran producing an imposing display but was turned down by a swarm of Dublin players late in the tie as Kerry lost possession. In November 2020, Cork sensationally assaulted Kerry in a strangely empty Páirc Uí Chaoimh, also after extra time, with Moran off target with two late efforts as they looked to close the game.
The past winter raised questions about whether Moran would continue to be part of inter-county play.
Aged 34 in June, he had two senior All-Ireland medals on home soil, his resilience and commitment unquestioned after a string of setbacks on the pitch with long-term defeats and injuries kept him on the mend. difference.
Mike Quirke is a club team-mate, a former County team-mate and a selector for the new management group set up at Kerry for 2022.
He knew Moran had a lot to do off the pitch. The job requires as a partner at Casey Stephenson Accountants in Tralee, family commitments with her young son Eli an arrival in recent years.
David Moran with his son after the 2021 Munster final.
Credit: Ryan Byrne/INPHO
From the outside you could see that integrating football into this calendar was a challenge.
“It was a horrible injury he suffered in the county final last year at the start of the game,” Quirke recalled.
“It would have been a lot easier for him to wrap it up. He has a young child at home, himself and his wife Sinead, he has a busy business, so he had every reason to pack it. in.
“But he also understands that this group is close and everyone is greedy; I guess he’s greedy because he understands he has an opportunity to be a part of this once again, and he’s been a long time letting it go.
“We spoke, Jack spoke to him, and everyone spoke to him, and he was happy to stay and we were glad he did.”
And so he is back to prepare for an All-Ireland final, sixteen years after his first experience of such an occasion as a minor against Roscommon. Kerry drew, lost the replay at Ennis but Moran managed to make amends in 2008 with an U21 triumph over Kildare.
It was the same year his senior league debut came against Donegal and his senior league debut came against Cork. Since then, he has played a significant role in Kerry’s football narrative.
He came on as a late substitute in the 2008 senior loss to Tyrone and played a similar role in the 2009 win over Cork. A broken crusader in April 2011 at a league game in Inniskeen was called off that year, the same setback hit him hard twelve months later.
In 2014 he started and toasted success, a final Donegal victory accompanied by his first All-Star award a few months later.
David Moran lifting the Sam Maguire in 2014.
Source: Morgan Treacy/INPHO
He lost a decider in 2015 to Dublin, drew and lost to the same opponents in 2019, starting all three finals.
A lock to see game time at some point in tomorrow’s showdown, this will mark Moran’s seventh appearance in an All-Ireland senior football final. No other player who will take to the field can compare to this level of experience. The entire squad of Galway players have never featured on the biggest day in the football calendar.
Of the Kerry band who contested their last hit in 2014, only Paul Murphy, Stephen O’Brien and Paul Geaney are survivors along with Moran.
Another measure of his longevity is that he represents the only game connection to the last time Jack O’Connor guided Kerry to Sam in 2009.
Always involved, always central.
“I would say whatever plans Jack had for him (this year), he had his own plans,” said Barry John Keane, another Strand Road player and former colleague of Kerry, speaking earlier this week.
“He would support himself. He left no stone unturned. And he has performed well in the last two games at the age of 34.
“He grew up around football. His father Ogie has eight All-Ireland medals. He would be driven himself. He doesn’t want to live off his father’s name. I don’t think he’s going to get into bonus territory this year. When the body is good it can compete with the best and it has shown it so far.
In the 50th minute of action at Páirc Uí Rinn on Saturday 7 May, Moran was pushed into the exchanges. It was his first glimpse of meaningful playing time this year for Kerry. Cork was proving to be difficult clients to pass on to Kerry, Moran’s presence was essential to successfully do so.
He helped gain a platform around midfield, leading aerial exchanges, winning send-offs and pinning Cork in his own half. The points sank and Kerry cruised to victory.
Six weeks later, Jack O’Connor was invited under the Hogan Stand to sum up his veteran midfielder’s contribution, scoring two points in the quarter-final win over Mayo.
Get Murray Kinsella match analysis and New Zealand’s Garry Doyle updates exclusive to members
Become a member
“Huge. Really rolled back the years. Like, we didn’t think there was 70 minutes in him.
“He thought so himself by the way and he proved it there. That’s a great asset.
David Moran in action against Mayo’s Jordan Flynn.
Credit: James Crombie/INPHO
This level of conviction propelled Moran forward and retained his importance to Kerry’s setup. His display against Dublin was less effective than the dominance of the Mayo game, being stripped of possession before Cormac Costello’s goal, but persistence was no problem.
Barry O’Shea, another of Kerry and Kerins O’Rahilly’s experience, spoke to Le42 last November ahead of the club’s semi-final and sketched Moran’s underage status.
= “David when he was very young he probably wouldn’t have had a minor prodigy in U12 or U14. His brother Brian would have been the star. David kept working and working on his game, he came a bit later .
John Kennedy was the manager when the Kerry miners came calling. He had played during a section of the Kerry Golden Years with David’s father Ogie, struck by the star’s welcoming nature in the locker room at the time and later by his son’s humility, willingness to work on his game and his ability to cope with the pressure that comes with an illustrious family name.
There is also an ability to adapt.
Jack O’Connor’s return to the hot seat put a new emphasis on Kerry’s kicking game and the skill required to execute it. When Kerins O’Rahilly reached a Kerry final in 2008, O’Connor was Moran’s manager and again at county senior level the following summer.
He still uses those skills, it was Moran’s long punt that unsettled Dublin’s defense for Sean O’Shea’s opener in the recent semi-final. Keane has spent enough time at his club and county playing in forward lines that benefit from the supply chain coming out of Moran’s boot.
“He has the outside of the boot pass. Those 50:50 balls that some guys just hit on the line, he can leave them outside of you, where you (the striker) can let them beat you. He has a very good connection with most forwards.
“And I’ve seen him ask strikers what kind of ball do you want, what direction do they want it bouncing, what’s your strongest run? Which is massive. He would practice a lot, whereas most guys are just having fun.
“He would call one or two of the strikers and say, we have 10 or 11 balls here, and I can send them to you as you wish. That’s why his skills are so high.
Moran is in his 15th senior campaign with Kerry, a run with six All-Ireland final appearances, two Sam Maguire wins, two All-Stars, two cruciate injuries and an AFL tryout with St Kilda.
But he still operates at the highest level with Kerry.
Always contributing and always trying to reach the top.
The42 is on Instagram! Press the button below on your phone to follow us!