Andy Moran played in a number of high profile games throughout a storied career with the Mayo footballers that spanned 16 seasons.
Moran broke onto the Mayo side in 2003 and first came to the nation’s attention a year later when scoring an all-important goal of the bench in the All-Ireland semi-final. The goal proved to be the catalyst for one of the greatest comebacks in the modern-era as Mayo qualified for the 2004 All-Ireland final.
The latter half of Moran’s career saw him play in various other high profile games, particularly, three memorable All-Ireland final matches in 2016 and 2017.
The Mayo legend sat down for a live chat with EJ Menswear shop in Sligo where he revealed the most amazing atmosphere he had experienced throughout his 16 seasons playing senior inter-county football.
“The one thing we said was we’d follow the band the whole way around, so stick together, follow the band the whole way around in the parade,” Moran said.
— The GAA (@officialgaa) August 20, 2017
“It sounds mad… but we were in Limerick, it’s a beautiful setting, it’s something else on a dry summer’s day, and the two teams literally walked the whole way around.
“I’ve never seen it, I swear to God, I’ve never seen it done where the two teams followed the band the whole way around.
“It was the most amazing atmosphere I’ve ever witnessed, ever, playing in a game of Gaelic football, better than All-Ireland finals, everything. It was just at a different level.”
Before switching to full-forward at the tail end of his career, where he deservedly won Footballer of the Year in 2017, Moran operated between the wing-back and wing-forward positions.
However, he openly admitted that during the early part of his career he struggled to compete with the top counties playing in the position as he wasn’t fit enough.
The two-time All-Star highlighted how watching the Cork senior footballers train helped shape the second half of his career after witnessing on an All-Stars trip how far ahead they were.
“I don’t know if you remember Pearse O’Neill that used to play for Cork, six-foot-five, six-foot-six, monster of a man, I ended up marking this specimen on the All-Star trip,” said Moran.
“I used to go to the gym. I used to go down and I used to see the Cork boys. I was like, ‘Look at these boys’. I used to always think I was in good shape, I was fit.
“But I seen these boys training and I just kind of went….there were two or three moments in my career that kind of helped me. One of them was going to Sligo [IT] and the second one was that trip.
“I’ll never forget coming home from that trip going ‘I’m not near fit enough here’. I genuinely looked at John Miskella, these guys that I had to mark, thinking, ‘I’m not fit enough to mark these guys, I’m genuinely not physically able to mark these guys if we get to Croke Park’.
“I came home that year, I was in horrible shape going for the tests with [James] Horan in 2011, and I just kind of set my stall out and my career kind of took off from there.”
It’s clear that the moment left its mark on Moran as he won the first of his two All-Star awards the following season.