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Impact Sub To Footballer Of The Year Contender - A Career Great Season For Andy Moran

Impact Sub To Footballer Of The Year Contender - A Career Great Season For Andy Moran
By PJ Browne Updated

Shortly after half-time in the All-Ireland semi-final replay between Kerry and Mayo, Eamonn Fitzmaurice called Shane Enright ashore. ‘Why didn’t you do it 20 minutes ago?’ an irate Kerry fan called in the crowd.

Easy for him to say. Enright is Kerry’s best man-marker; an All-star; the best option Fitzmaurice had. On that Saturday, he was undone by a man James Horan says is in the form of his life.

Moran had beaten Enright to a Conor Loftus ball, turned on the 20m line - with the Tarbert man left on the ground - played a one-two with Cillian O’Connor and then palmed the ball into the net for Mayo’s second goal of the game. If it had been a fight, David Gough would probably have stepped in waving his arms.

Enright is a player in the prime of his career but in the marathon of his inter-county run, Moran has found a second wind. Anyone unaware of his age might have guessed him to be six or eight years younger based on his performances this summer.

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Come awards night in November, Moran will be 34. All but guaranteed an All-Star, one which would arrive six years after his first, it would not be a surprise to see him pick up a second accolade on the night.

A star turn in a Mayo victory on Sunday and Moran would put himself in pole position to be named Footballer of the Year.

A 20-minute impact sub coming into the season, Moran has become a girder for Mayo hopes; an essential part of the structure Stephen Rochford has built this season. He’s scored 3-21 - all from play - in this year’s Championship. Only Cillian O’Connor with 3-59 has scored more for Mayo, and 43 of his points have come from placed balls.

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It is a remarkable U-turn in a career which looked to be heading downhill. The descent was halted two years ago when Moran left his job as a sales rep and opened a gym called 'The Movement' in Castlebar near MacHale Park.

James Horan believes the change in job has been the catalyst for Moran’s renaissance.

Andy said himself, it was the beginning of 2015 before he thought he was back after some significant injuries. He changed his life around to maximise his chances of being in the shape he is.

He opened a gym in Castlebar; he got out of the car, he was traveling quite a lot.

All those things and the work and commitment he put in every single day to be in that shape is absolutely phenomenal. It's an absolute credit to him and the medical team.

‘Movement changes everything’ is the motto of Moran’s gym. It is certainly true of a career which hit a pothole and broke an axle in 2012. Moran tore his cruciate ligament during the All-Ireland quarter-final against Down. A year prior to that, he had suffered a broken leg.

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Horan believes that in 2012, particularly during the league, the Ballaghaderreen man was the best player in the country. He now thinks Moran's form is near that level once again.

Andy was always a superb footballer. If you remember back to the league in 2012, for me - when he was playing very similar to what he is now - he was the best player in the country. He was playing wing forward for us and he was absolutely brilliant.

He's back to that now. He doesn't have the same running ability as he did then but his craft and guile has been sharpened over the years with his experience.

Sky Sports analyst James Horan will be in studio at Croke Park this weekend as Dublin and Mayo battle it out in the All-Ireland Senior Football Championship Final, shown live on Sky Sports Arena from 2.30pm.

See Also: James Horan Reveals What It's Like Watching A Mayo Game In The Sky Sports Studio

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