Barry Cahill was not surprised to hear the news that Andy Moran had called time on his Mayo career this week. Neither would he be shocked to see Moran soon involved at management level with the county.
Aged 35, Moran - the 2017 Footballer of the Year - retired from an inter-county career which had begun in 2003.
"When you look at 2012, when he did his cruciate, he’d a number of years already under his belt. People would have felt that his career was on the way out after that," said Cahill, a 2011 All-Ireland winner with Dublin, at the launch of AIB’s new short film, The Toughest Temptation.
"He completely refocused himself, reinvented himself as well as a footballer, moving into the inside line.
"I would have marked him when I was a half-back and even when I was a half-forward, I would have played against him when he was playing in that role as a wing-back or a wing-forward. He was always a handful.
"When he went into that inside line, he was just so clever with his movement, he was so efficient with the ball in terms of laying it off to the better man or actually taking on the score himself. That commitment of 15, 16, 17 years is just off the charts for a modern day inter-county footballer.
"He’s had a fantastic career. I know he didn’t get to reach his ultimate goal of trying to win an All-Ireland. His legacy in the game is that he will be spoken about in the same breath as Ciaran McDonald, that type of level, because of what he’s shown over the last number of years - he’s won Footballer of the Year.
"I wasn’t surprised to hear that he retired. Maybe it’s time for a changing of the guard from a Mayo perspective.
"He’s a committed guy and he has a young family and there’s a work career as well but I wouldn’t be surprised to see him back involved with a Mayo team in the not too distant future."
Cahill believes that in the future, we will see few GAA players have careers with the durability of Moran's.
"The one player I have in my head would be Paddy McBrearty who might have that longevity. He came in at 17 or 18 in 2012 an already has eight seasons under his belt. Michael Murphy has a number of seasons under his belt as well.
"They’re getting fewer and fewer. For a player to get to his mid-30s and still be playing inter-county football is serious going. The average age of retirement is coming back to the 30 mark.
"Nowadays, if you do 10 complete years of inter-county football, you need a lot of things to go your way in terms of injuries, form and outside distractions."
Picture credit: Sportsfile