BARRY MORAN HAD dark days when he was forced to consider whether he would play intercounty football again.
Since making his senior debut for Mayo back in 2005, he has been plagued with injuries throughout his career and at this stage last year, watched on as a spectator as his team-mates lined out in an All-Ireland SFC semi-final meeting with Kerry.
Twelve months on, the Castlebar Mitchels player has been a colossus at midfield for James Horan’s side and is certain to start on Sunday when the Connacht champions meet Dublin at Croke Park.
And he is eager to make up for lost time.
“If you look at my career in recent years, I’ve picked up so many injuries,” Moran said. “And people are always looking at me saying there’s something wrong with him again now. Thankfully that’s not the case now.
“This time last year I was sitting in the stands cheering Mayo on. Luckily enough I’m here now preparing for an All-Ireland semi-final. This is the one thing I’ve been looking forward to and I’m raring to go for it now.
“I picked up an injury at the start of the year and I wasn’t really up to inter-county standard and was cut when it came to the championship panel.
You feel sorry for yourself for the first few days. But after that you just want to get back and play. It’s either feel sorry for yourself or get back working hard.
“I had to look at myself and realise what I wanted to do, put the head down. I’d great help from James and all the backroom team who got me fit and healthy.”
The Yew County must do with the services of Andy Moran after the team captain picked up a knee injury during the quarter-final win over Down and his namesake is aware of just how big a loss it is.
“He’s such a great captain, it’s as simple as that,” he adds. “He’s the most unselfish player you could ever come across and he has oodles of motivation. Everyone is saying he’s out and it’s a massive blow. And it is a massive blow.
“But we have a massive panel, there’s subs there who are itching to get in, who have already to come in to show we can replace Andy Moran.
He’ll be there with us on the sideline, he’s been there with us throughout the last three weeks. He’ll play as big a role off the pitch as he’s played on the pitch.”