• Sport

LAST WORD COLUMN: Unsung hero Mick Moran left Bantry Blues play football

Monday, 17th April, 2017 7:04pm
LAST WORD COLUMN: Unsung hero Mick Moran left Bantry Blues play football

Gone but not forgotten: Mick Moran played a big role in Bantry Blues’ GAA Club and will be remembered as a great club man.

LAST WORD COLUMN: Unsung hero Mick Moran left Bantry Blues play football

Gone but not forgotten: Mick Moran played a big role in Bantry Blues’ GAA Club and will be remembered as a great club man.

LAST WORD COLUMN BY SPORTS EDITOR KIERAN McCARTHY

 

MICK Moran’s engine was the stuff of legend.

He could run all day, get up the next day and go again. And repeat it again the following day. His energy knew no bounds.

Anyone who trained him or played against him always remarked that they never saw an engine like Mick’s, says Dr Denis Cotter, who trained the Bantry Blues teams that Moran starred on and won two Cork SFC titles with, in 1995 and 1998.

‘Mick was just a wonderfully fit, athletic, talented footballer,’ Dr Cotter said.

‘It was his absolute engine that stands out, Mick would be going as strong in the 67th minute as he was in the first minute. That left Bantry play, we were never worried about Mick’s man because he would have him so exhausted by the end, they weren’t fit for anything.’

Kerry GAA legend Seamus Moynihan knows only too well what it was like to be put up against the Bantry Blues stalwart, who, sadly, died suddenly earlier this week.

Back before the 1995 county SFC final against Muskerry, Bantry Blues took on Glenflesk in a challenge game in Kenmare, a time when a young Seamus Moynihan was at the peak of his powers.

Michael (Mick) Moran, 21 years old at the time, ran Moynihan all over the field that day. The two men came off the pitch with the sweat dripping off them, their jerseys stuck to their bodies.

An exhausted Moynihan turned to Dr Cotter and quipped, ‘What sort of animal did ye put on me? I never saw anything like him before!’

Odds are Moynihan never saw anything like Moran after that either.

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Mick Moran left Bantry Blues play football, his influence was felt throughout the team – the words of Dr Denis Cotter.

Moran’s midfield partnership with Damien O’Neill was the fulcrum of the club’s success in the 1990s and those two Cork SFC titles; the twosome complemented each other famously.

‘Damien was the leader of that team, the driving force, but it was Mick that left Damien play football. Damien didn’t have to worry about anything else other than his own game because he knew that Mick was covering the field for him,’ Dr Cotter explained.

Arthur Coakley, current manger of the Bantry premier intermediate team, nods his head in agreement.

‘Mick was such a big player for the club at such an important time, that was our best-ever team, really,’ he says.

‘He was in midfield with Damien, an unsung hero in many ways, but they were such a good pairing. He was very quiet but very powerful and he had a massive workrate, he was a super footballer.

‘Nowadays, nearly all of the players are young but he won a county senior medal at the age of 21, which was a great achievement when you consider how you’d be going up against hardy, tough fellas.

‘He was just a marvellous servant to the club.’

It’s fitting too that when Moran, a Cork minor and U21 (he won an All-Ireland title at this grade with Cork in 1994, coming on in the semi-final v Laois and final v Mayo, and he captained the team in ’95), made the step up to the Cork seniors, he did so alongside Damien O’Neill, as Dr Cotter explains.

‘I remember going to the first Cork game after the 1995 county final, I think they played Louth up in Páirc Uí Rinn, and Damien and Mick were the Cork midfield that day,’ he said.

‘Mick’s midfield partnership with Damien O’Neill was a partnership that was made in heaven.

‘I always regard as my greatest coaching achievement that I knew how to handle Mick Moran and Damien O’Neill as a partnership rather than two individuals.’

He added: ‘Mick was a wonderful footballer, he had wonderful football ability, he could go off his left or his right, he was what you call a natural footballer, in the Kerry mould really.’

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Bantry Blues GAA Club was plunged into shock at the news of Moran’s sudden passing earlier this week.

On the club’s Facebook page, a beautiful tribute referenced how Moran was ‘an iconic figure among his fellow players, club members and supporters,’ and that he ‘played with absolute distinction for the club at all levels’.

It added: ‘Not only did Mick line out with distinction for his beloved Blues but also lined out over the years on various Cork teams.’

As a footballer, he made his mark and his name will forever be remembered in the annals of Bantry Blues GAA history, but off the field his impact was even greater.

He was a father, a husband, a son, a brother and a friend, and he was many wonderful things to many people.

‘Mick was kind, had a very droll sense of humour, he was social and he fitted in ideally. Everybody loved Mick – the supporters, everyone in the town, even the people he played against. He was hard, a big strong man but there wasn’t a dirty stroke in his body and everyone recognised that,’ Dr Cotter said, who added: ‘They should nearly retire the number eight jersey in his memory.’

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Michael (Mick) Moran is survived by his wife Anna, son Sean, mother Kathleen and brother John, and his family and friends.

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