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Kevin Moran Recalls How He Got Away With Playing For Dublin Behind Man United's Back

Kevin Moran Recalls How He Got Away With Playing For Dublin Behind Man United's Back
By Gary Connaughton Updated
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When it comes to discussing the greatest Irish sportsperson of all-time, there is no doubt that Kevin Moran has to be in the conversation. The way in which he got to the very top of two separate sports is something that is unlikely to be replicated anytime soon.

In Gaelic football, he established himself as a key player for Dublin while still a teenager. He would win All-Ireland titles with the county in 1976 and 1977, as well as an All-Star in the former campaign.

Making the move to Manchester United the following year, he would go on to spend a decade at Old Trafford and win a pair of FA Cups at the club. That is without even mentioning his achievements with Ireland, where Moran would win 71 caps and star in two major tournaments.

Kevin Moran split his time between Manchester United & Dublin

While he would have to leave his GAA goals behind in order to pursue a career in soccer across the Irish Sea, there was a time when he attempted to balance the two.

In 1978 when Kevin Moran was still in the reserve team at Manchester United, he made the decision to come back to Ireland during the off-season and link up with the Dublin squad again.

Of course, all of this was done without the permission of his new employers.


Speaking on Kevin Moran: Codebreaker, he recalled how he played for Dublin in the Leinster championship without letting United know.


I'm just in the reserves, I wasn't in the first first team. I was nowhere near that particular stage. Fortunately, at the end of the season I've got a big break...

The first game I played was the semi-final of Leinster against Offaly. I wouldn't have told United about it, I wouldn't have said anything.

I would have been back in Manchester doing pre-season training. The Leinster final would have been on a Sunday, we would be free on a Sunday...

I am keeping it from my employers, because ignorance is bliss.

At the time we had no internet, you had no way of keeping in touch with what someone was doing somewhere else. You can come over and do things that people don't know anything about.

Moran came on in the Leinster semi-final against Offaly, and despite having to return to Manchester for pre-season training, he would then catch a flight back to Ireland and start for Dublin in their Leinster final win.


When it came to the All-Ireland final against Kerry later that year, he got the sense that the occasion was too big for him to discreetly take part in.

As a result, a party from Dublin travelled over to Manchester to ask United manager Dave Sexton to allow Moran to play in the game. After underplaying the physical toll it would take on the player, he eventually agreed.

It's fair to say the club might have regretted the decision in the end. Not only would Dublin lose the final to Kerry, but Moran would pull his hamstring and require nine stitches after the game.


It put an end to any hopes of a dual career moving forward.

The final was too big of a game to get away with...

I did my hamstring the Tuesday before in a training session. I played through a hamstring pull, then I completely just tore the thing asunder.

That particular game will always be remembered for Mikey Sheehy's free-kick. I have never known a referee to allow a free-kick to be taken as quick as that, especially one where the goalkeeper isn't on the line...

Then I got a smack in the head. I needed nine stitches...

I would have loved to have kept going, but you get to a time where you realise 'I can't do this any longer'.

I was kind of half in and half out, the time was right for me to go and commit 100 per cent to United.

A remarkable tale from a bygone era, one that we will certainly never see replicated.

Kevin Moran: Codebreaker airs on RTÉ One tonight, May 29th at 9.35pm.

SEE ALSO: Roy Keane Calls Man United Players 'Ridiculous' For Celebrating With De Gea

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