Tributes to Big Barry as he hangs up his inter-county boots

GAA: News

A young Barry Moran in action for the Mayo u21s against Kildare in the All Ireland semi-final in 2004. Photo: Sportsfile

A young Barry Moran in action for the Mayo u21s against Kildare in the All Ireland semi-final in 2004. Photo: Sportsfile

After 13-years in the green and red with the Mayo seniors, Castlebar Mitchels Barry Moran has decided to hang up his inter-county boots.

The big midfielder won six Connacht senior titles, played in four All Ireland senior finals and won an All Ireland u21 medal in 2006 in his career with the county.

Moran first came to the general consciousness as a precocious underage talent that played both minor and u21 in 2004 - his minor side were beaten by Galway in the Connacht semi-final that year and he was drafted into the u21 set up by John Maughan starting in their All Ireland semi-final win over Kildare scoring a point and the All Ireland final against Armagh where he bagged a goal in a 2-8 to 1-9 defeat.

Speaking about Moran this week to the Mayo Advertiser Maughan said he never had any doubts about drafting him into the u21 side that year and the senior set up a year later.

"I saw a guy with huge potential and an enormous future ahead of him. I remember saying it to the guys who were with me in the u21 side that year and they all agreed. He came in and did a great job for us, he was well able to field the ball and was a top class athlete - we were very unlucky in that final against Armagh and he scored a goal that day for us."

Moran made his senior championship debut in 2005 against Roscommon off the bench and he was a surprise starter that year in Mayo's All Ireland quarter-final defeat to Kerry in Croke Park - once again under Maughan.

The Crossmolina native recalled how well he adapted to playing in that game telling the Mayo Advertiser: "I'd always believe that if they are good enough they are old enough and he was. He went in there and went toe-to-toe with Darragh O'Sé in the middle of the park and showed no fear whatsoever and put in a really good performance - even scoring a point."

The following year he was a key player in the Mayo u21 side under Pat Holmes and Noel Connelly that won the All Ireland title against Cork in Ennis - partnering Seamus O'Shea in the middle of the park, he also had become a regular member of the Mayo senior set up and made his first All Ireland senior final appearance off the bench.

Moran became a mainstay of the Mayo set up in the years after and showed great resolve after being dropped by James Horan from the panel in the Ballintubber man's first year in charge of the side to come back stronger the next year and nail down a place in the starting 15 that contested that years All Ireland final against Donegal in the middle of the field and pick up an All Star nomination.

While Moran was not a regular starter in the years afterwards he did come off the bench in the 2013 final and both the drawn final and replay in 2016 and was drafted in as a sweeper against Donegal in 2015 in the All Ireland quarter-final and reprised the role again a year later against Tipperary at the semi-final stage of the competition.

Injuries played a major part in Moran not nailing down a starting place more often - but he was a great guy to have around the dressing room and always gave it his all, according to Maughan. "He was a good young fella when he came into our set up and a great character something that continued all throughout his time with Mayo and was an immensely popular guy with his team-mates. It's a pity he struggled with injuries, he was a real classy player who always went out and competed - be that in the middle of the field, at full-forward or later on when he was asked to play as a sweeper."

Current Mayo manager Stephen Rochford paid tribute to Moran in a statement saying: "Barry has had a long and distinguished career in the Mayo jersey and has been part of a Mayo team that reached exceptionally high standards over many years. I know he will continue to excel in the colours of Castlebar Mitchels and I thank him most sincerely for his unwavering commitment to Mayo football over the past three years, and prior to that right back to his senior debut as a young player."

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