Final Countdown: David Moran – The Comeback Kid

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Kerry ETB

Player Profile – By Gavin O’Connor


David Moran in action in the All-Ireland quarter final against Galway in Croke Park in early August. Photo by Dermot Crean

HAS there been a player in the Championship this year who has emerged from the shadows to the extent David Moran has?

The Strand Road club man has already received recognition of his performances when he was awarded the GAA/GPA Player of the month for August on the back of his exceptional displays against Mayo.

All of  it could have hinged on one moment. As Kerry fought for survival in the closing exchanges of the first game against Mayo, David picked up the ball about 50 yards out on the sideline and floated in a perfect pass for Kieran Donaghy to pluck out of the sky, hand it to O’Donoghue to claw Kerry back into contention.

Donaghy can be devastating, but if he is not getting quality ball that’s put in at the right pace and trajectory the damage he can do is limited. ‘Hail Mary’ punts rarely payoff – David has shown he has the composure to consistently give the right pass.

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The Kerins O’Rahilly’s player has a strong claim for an All-Star gong this year, but that accolade lies very low on the priority list for the next week at least.

His career so far has been dotted with some disappointments. After winning an All-Ireland medal in 2009 in his second year with Kerry, he departed to Australia with good friend and club-mate Tommy Walsh to have a go at AFL footie in Australia. David didn’t make the cut, but Tommy did and made the dream leap from amateur to professional.

Just as he was starting to get into his stride with Kerry, he had two spirit-crushing setbacks in 2011 and 2012. David received the hammer blow of back to back cruciate ligament injuries which sidelined him for both of those seasons and banished him to the treatment room.


David Moran breaks out of defence in the Kerry V Mayo All-Ireland semi-final in the Gaelic Grounds last month. Photo by Dermot Crean

His club manager, Barry O’Shea, was also a player who had his share of injury problems in his career, so knew exactly how David was feeling.

“He did everything to the letter of the law to come back from those injuries. He has fierce mental strength to be that dedicated. You could look at the injuries as being the making of him and he’ll appreciate the high points in his career all the more now,” said Barry O’Shea.

“I was never in doubt he had the ability, he has it all in his game to be unstoppable,” said O’Shea.

This year it was Bryan Sheehan’s bad fortune which gave David his break when the St Mary’s man was substituted early on in the All-Ireland quarter-final against Galway.

When introduced, David won his first contested kick-out, his determination to seize the day coming to fore right from the off.

On the strength of that performance against Galway and Bryan Sheehan still struggling with a hip injury, David got a rare championship start for Kerry. Up to that point in his career he had only been selected twice for the first team in 15 championship appearances.

One thing that is noticeable this year is that there is a freeness to his game, there is a sense of abandon about him when in the past the burden of further injuries seemed to weigh heavy on his mind. He clearly feels confident that his body will hold up and is playing without fear.

Against Mayo there was a controlled aggression to his game, a preciseness which saw him turn over possession so often and control centre field.

This was all against what was perceived to be a much stronger Mayo midfield. In the Gaelic Grounds he held the ball a staggering 47 times. To put that into perspective, 20 possessions is considered a big influence.

One thing he has reiterated since those performances is that Kerry have nothing won yet, which shows where a Munster title ranks in the grand scheme.

Having grown up in a house where eight All-Ireland medals dwell it must be all too apparent of how a Kerry footballer’s career is measured.

It’s one of the stories of the season and, along with Kerry’s march to an All-Ireland, one that very few people would have predicted.

One more game to try to add another medal to the Moran family collection.

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