Andy Moran hopeful Mayo won't suffer psychological blow of relegation
By John Harrington
Andy Moran admits that relegation from Division 1 of the Allianz Football League would be a tough psychological blow for Mayo to take ahead of the Championship.
The Westerners are currently second from bottom with three points from five matches and badly need a positive result against Galway in Salthill on Sunday.
“We're in a predicament now, we're in a place where we are not in control of our own destiny really,” said Moran today at the announcement in Croke Park that McKeever Sports has secured an official GAA licence to manufacture official Club and County playing kit and leisurewear”
“Even if we win the two games, it's mad.
“Even if we get to seven points, we're not guaranteed. I thought six would be enough to keep us if you had asked me two week's ago, I still think six will keep us in the division.
“I think a draw and a win will keep us there but the results on the other side of it control [the outcome].
“Would it be a disaster if we went down? Long-term, I don't think so but psychologically going into the championship it is.
“The League is a funny one. I don't think you look back on the League and say, 'well, we played really, really well.' But it's confidence and if you stay up with four points like Monaghan did last year you're happy.
“But it does matter to stay up in my view because it gives you the confidence going forward, many a time we've stumbled over the line and stayed up and listen, you just park it then and focus on Championship then, it's like, 'come on, let's go' and then you can kind of move on.
“If we go down, psychologically then, we don't know how it's going to affect, I suppose, the team, the management and stuff like that.
“We're hoping for a big performance against Galway this weekend and if we win that, I would be confident that we can win on the last day. The key game is next Sunday in Pearse Stadium.”
Moran believes if Mayo can get a fully-fit Cillian O’Connor back on the pitch as soon as possible it could have a transformative effect on the team.
“You get Cillian [O'Connor] back up at the top of the pitch, all of a sudden, Darren Coen starts marking the second man-marker,” says Moran.
“James Carr starts marking the third man-marker and, all of a sudden, you become a different animal. If Cillian is available, we don't know who is available.
“If you go through our team, Brendan Harrison, Seamy O'Shea, Chris Barrett, Donal Vaughan, Keith Higgins just coming back, you know? You didn't have Fionn McDonagh, you didn't have Cillian. Darren Coen was missing for some of it, you had James Carr missing for some of it like they are huge, huge names.
“Again, I'm not sure any team, I'm not sure Dublin would be able to cater for that amount of losses.
“And you get Cillian back in there, all of a sudden, the whole dynamic changes in that team. So, the key boy is Cillian O'Connor to get back and then have Darren and James and these boys running off him, then you have a chance so fingers crossed.”
If Galway win on Sunday they’d have one foot in an Allianz Football League Division 1 Final.
Such is the rivalry between the two counties, they’d probably derive as much satisfaction from relegating Mayo as they would reaching a League Final.
“Ah they would, yeah,” smiles Moran. “They would. Ballaghaderreen is a funny relationship with Galway because of Johnno.
“He brought the Sam Maguire to St. Nathy's College in '98 when they won it. Joyce, we followed Joyce, Donnellan and these boys because Johnno was their coach in school and he was the coach of Galway.
“So we followed them all through that era. We got John O'Mahony in his pomp when he was the best manager in Ireland. We were very, very lucky. But it doesn't hid the fact that I'm sure Padraic Joyce would absolutely lovely to do one on Mayo at the weekend.
“I do think that Mayo are ready. I do think James is building a nice team. I think he's providing young players.
“It reminds me a bit of 2010. In 2010 we got to a League Final and then we lost to Sligo and Longford (in the Championship). But look at all the players who played. Donie Vaughan, Aidan O'Shea, Seamie O'Shea, that was all their breakthrough year.
“Hopefully 2020 is that year. So that when James comes into 2021 he'll be pushing them on.”
Moran is impressed with how Galway have played so far this year under Padraic Joyce, but he believes the new manager is building on some very sound foundations put in place by his predecessor Kevin Walsh.
“I genuinely think the job Kevin Walsh did with Galway is totally underestimated,” says Moran.
“We were going up to Pearse Stadium, they were coming to MacHale Park and we were giving them plenty of it.
“They weren't winning, we'd won five in a row and Walsh stemmed that tide. And yes, he did it playing defensively but it was important for Galway to stem that tide. Yes, was it the right time for Galway to be transitioning?
“100 per cent. Pádraic Joyce, to me, always had coach written all over him. Like, the way he played the game at number 14 and number 11, the way he moved around, he was class like.
“It's exciting but the key thing for all managers is to bring in the right people around you. Like, look who snuck in the backdoor, John Divilly who has won two Sigerson's with UCD and all of a sudden, he's in behind him [Joyce].
“No-one really noticed John Divilly come in. John Divilly probably played the most intelligent position on the pitch at six and all of a sudden, he's in there as well so yes, Padraic is pushing them this way but can be sure Divilly is doing something with the backs as well.”
Moran has already embarked on the coaching path himself since retiring from inter-county football last year.
He coached the Mayo U-20 footballers that were unfortunate to lose to eventual Connacht champions Galway after a penalty shoot-out, and is also combining playing and coaching with the Ballaghaderreen senior team.
All going well, he hopes to someday coach or manage the Mayo senior footballers once he has proven he is capable of making a positive impact at that level.
“Yeah, the aim is to do something like that but, again, there's an awful lot of pit-falls in it,” said Moran.
“There's such a road ahead of us and the important thing is to not just rush in but to take your time and kind of learn as much as you can learn and then move it on from there.
“It was always a thing I was going to try. It's something I'd have really good respect for. I have massive respect for coaching in general because I don't think anyone knows who's going to be good at it.
“I'm going into coaching now and I'm giving myself five years and if I'm not good enough I'll move along then.
“I did the U-20s and thought I did some things really well and other things I'd be like, 'Mmmm'. You'd know if you're helping them out or not.
“I'll go and assess and do a few things and come back and the goal is to be involved in your own county at senior level. But I'll go away and do a few years somewhere else first before I go near that.”