“My gut is telling me Mayo.”
Former Mayo star Andy Moran believes that Saturday’s All-Ireland Football final is perhaps the most difficult game to predict that he’s ever seen.
Neither Mayo or Tyrone were expected to reach this year’s All-Ireland final, but after stunning wins against Dublin and Kerry the two find themselves in the most unlikely of final day encounters in Croke Park.
Mayo have of course suffered their fair share of agony in All-Ireland finals in recent years, with Moran himself finishing as runners up with his county on six occasions.
Andy Moran was speaking as an ambassador for Ireland Active’s sixth annual National Fitness Day and admitted that he is finding it extremely difficult to separate the two, although his gut is telling him that Mayo will finally get over the line.
Andy Moran: ‘I do believe it is Mayo’s time.’
“If you say who’s going to win this final with any certainty I think you’re half bluffing. But my gut says Mayo. It’s so even all through the teams but I think the one place where we hold an advantage is in the middle of the field,” Moran said.
“Mainly because Tyrone have gone for two big guys [until now] and I wouldn’t be surprised if one of them were changed. We play with two half forwards in along there and I think we can get scores out of there.
“I think that gives us a huge opportunity and I do believe that for some reason, and I know I’m turning into a complete Mayo fan now, I do believe it’s our time.
“The opportunity for both teams here is absolutely massive in terms of Mayo and Tyrone in an All-Ireland final without facing the might of the Dubs on six-in-a-row or without facing Kerry in a final.”
3 Days to Go! 🏆
The countdown continues as @MayoGAA and @TyroneGAALive go head-to-head this Saturday in the #GAA Football All-Ireland Senior Championship Final at @CrokePark! #GAABelong #BestSeatInTheHouse pic.twitter.com/YLWrMVtHQK
— The GAA (@officialgaa) September 8, 2021
‘There’s going to be so much nervous tension in this game.’
Mayo are the favourite’s heading into Saturday’s final, having gone into so many finals against the likes of Dublin in the last number of years as the underdogs.
As Dublin won’t be involved in the All-Ireland final this year for the first time since 2014, Moran reckons there will be more basic errors on show than there has been in recent years.
While the Connacht champions may be favoured to finally get their hands on the Sam Maguire, Moran believes the players will have taken little notice of what people are saying.
“I would say that this is the most 50:50 game of football I think I’ve ever witnessed. Maybe I’m a bit too close to it because of my Mayo connections but it’s so 50:50 that you can’t call a winner in it really, but my gut is telling me Mayo,” Moran explained.
“I think the players are really smart people too. I think they know that there’s going to be mistakes in this game. The beauty of not having Dublin in the game is that when you go and play Dublin, if you don’t play at 100 per cent, you’re getting beaten by 10 points.
“In this game, the keepers are going to make mistakes, there’s going to be missed frees, there’s going to be turnovers, there’s going to be collisions and there might be mistimed tackles. There will be mistakes in this game.
“When you’re not playing a defending champion that happens. There’s going to be so much nervous tension in this game and adrenaline, and that puts you out of your zone a little bit.
“I think the favourites tag is nice and it’s lovely to have the favourites tag. But does it mean anything? I don’t think so. I wouldn’t say the players are even aware of that, to be honest.”
Andy Moran: ‘Tyrone and Mayo have shown that there is another way.’
This year’s championship has been a major departure from the norm of recent years, as the country’s leading sides in Dublin and Kerry were stunned by magnificent performances from Mayo and Tyrone.
Both teams will be desperate to make amends for their early exits, although Moran doesn’t believe that either side will be the strong favourite to get their hands on the Sam Maguire next year.
While the former All-Stars footballer of the year believes Dublin and Kerry will certainly be in contention over the next few years, he does reckon that the competition is heating up.
“I think good coaching and tactics and sticking to a game plan showed with Tyrone against Kerry that it can be done. My personal belief would be that David Clifford will win All-Irelands. So Kerry are going to win a few,” Moran commented.
“Do I think that the fragments of that Dublin team will win another All-Ireland or two? I most certainly do. Will they have the [same] dominance? No, they can’t.
“You can’t have that many players leave and do it. But if you get Jack McCaffrey and Paul Mannion back into that team all of a sudden you’ll have a serious outfit again.
“The beauty of this is that Tyrone and Mayo have shown that there is another way for teams to come. Offaly in the under 20s, Meath in the under 17s – all of a sudden observers can see an exciting future for the game of Gaelic football and it’s lovely to see.
“But I do expect that both Kerry and Dublin will bounce back from this year’s defeats. I think that’s what makes it more important, for both Mayo and Tyrone, that you go and seize the opportunity when you get it.”