The football side of is over for me
News of Andy Moran's retirement as an intercounty player broke last night after an interview he recorded with Richie Sadlier for Second Captains' Player's Chair. The full interview was released today and, in it, Moran goes into a lot more detail on his decision to step away, and how he did it, as well as a whole lot more reflecting on his career and life as a Mayo footballer.
— Second Captains (@SecondCaptains) August 27, 2019
My career is finished as of yesterday, really, to be honest with you. We had a conversation with James (Horan) yesterday, and just let him know that it was finished, so I'm now kind of refocusing. My mind is clear now because I can actually think, 'OK, what's my next step? What do I want to get into?', and I'm kind of excited now about what the future holds.
I think this time it probably was (a straightforward decision). I always said I'd play until the manager runs me. But there's certain things, like last year was... Myself and my wife sat down and we just go, 'Come on, last year wasn't enjoyable, let's go for one more here!'. You kind of get the boost from when James rings you and he says, 'Come on, will you come for one last hoorah?', and I think the two of us were very understanding that this was going to be the last year of it.
I left the Whatsapp groups last night and, you know, some great friends, some great memories, and if I'm being honest, it sounds silly, but it was the toughest moment of the whole lot.
I got some nice messages last night. It was nice. It was an emotional evening, but I'm glad it's finalised now and done.
Moran says his wife actually got cold feet about his impending retirement a couple of weeks ago, but his decision came down to 2019 being a redemptive year for himself and Mayo and going out with a League medal, his first Championship game in Killarney, a huge win in Castlebar, and a full crowd in Croke Park for the semi-final with the Dubs.
It's a massive deal to say goodbye after 17 years, but Moran is choosing to reflect on how much it meant to him to play for his county in the first place.
It is a big thing. It's huge. When you were all consumed in the football, it was your job. This is, to me... I remember getting a phone call. I was actually playing with Longford at the time, in soccer. John Maughan rang me, he said, 'Listen, we want you to come in with the seniors.', and I was thinking, 'this is massive!', you couldn't' get any bigger for me.
So doing the FÁS course in Longford, coming down, and just got into training and I've been there since.
Moran also tells Richie that his next step is going to be getting into coaching, so it will be interesting to see how long he's away from the Mayo set up.
Earlier in the interview, Moran discusses how he dealt with being used as an impact player this year and how a conversation with Chris Barrett changed his season around.
It was tough. I'm 35. There comes a point in your career where you have to be realistic about it. Earlier on in the year, I genuinely fed myself the story that I was going to be a sub, and I don't think it did me well.
I was thinking about the last 10 or 20 minutes, and that's the way I was playing. And one of the boys actually pulled me up on it. Chris Barrett pulled me up on it earlier in the year, and he said, 'Come on! You can still make an impact here. You can still start.', and I think my season kind of took off from there, in terms of, I just really dug in and fought for the starting place.
I got my starting place back against Down. Armagh didn't go quite as well, but that really got me the match practice, match sharpness. Before the Dublin game, was I expecting to start? No. Was I hoping I'd start? Of course, because the Dubs in Croke Park is the game you want to play.
We played Dublin earlier on in the year in March, and I got taken off around the 50 minute mark. And from that game, I didn't start again for the National League. I came on in the National League final and did quite well, coming on off the bench.
So I suppose it was probably a bit self fulfilling, in the way I was kind of just saying, 'Listen, twenty minutes here, I could come on and be a vital part in the game at the end of it'. It wasn't because I was feeling sorry for myself. I was actually thinking maybe I could help the team a bit more coming off the bench.
It wasn't a bad thing to be thinking, but I wasn't getting the best out of myself when I was doing that, and when Chrissy pulled me up on it, my performance level went way up.
While Moran admits the semi-final defeat didn't sting as much as previous defeats because of the definitive nature of Dublin's win, he does describe some serious varying emotions on the day, especially with him watching from the sideline as the game slipped away in a short period of time in the second half.
We went in at half time, thought we were in a really positive position. If you'd given us 8-6 at half-time, we'd have definitely taken it. We went in. We made a small few adjustments to the plan because we were playing with the wind in the first half. We made a few adjustments.
I was out warming up. First goal goes in, you're thinking, 'can I be brought on now?', and then all of a sudden, inside four minutes, you're 10 points down, and the game is essentially over as a contest.
So, there was a whole range of emotions. You go in and half time, you're thinking, 'I could come on, I ccan change this, I can make a really big impact', and then inside 12 minutes, the whole thing is done.
You can listen to the full fascinating interview of the Second Captains World Service where Moran talks about lots more including his approach to training, his career, his status as a Mayo footballer in the county, and the help he needed in dealing with the grief of losing his father.