FOR years, David Moran ruled the sky in the famed green and gold of Kerry, continuing a tradition in the Kingdom of strong, powerful fetchers who can play ball.
But the two-time Allstar, who retired after picking up his third All-Ireland medal at the end of last season, doesn’t envy the job the Kerry midfielders have this weekend as they come up against Conor Glass and Brendan Rogers.
The Kerry midfield pairing of Diarmuid O’Connor and Jack Barry answered a lot of their critics with brilliant displays in the All-Ireland quarter-final victory over Tyrone when Jack O’Connor’s men ruled the roost around the middle.
“They’re coming up against a very strong midfield. At my age, I’m glad I’m not coming up against them, they’re very athletic, both of them,” said Moran of Sunday’s centrefield battle.
“I think it’s going to be very interesting. They’re all coming in in good form, really. I think Conor Glass and Brendan Rogers have put two, three good campaigns in. Jack is probably the most experienced of all of them and Diarmuid is coming in in good form. At the end of the day, as has happened over the last four or five years, it’s not really the middle two, it’s the half-backs, it’s the
“It’s not like the old days when you’re kicking out long kick-outs and (have) one up or whatever. It’s going to be a lot of short kick-outs, get possession, move the ball, defence, tackling, stuff like that.
“I think the reality of life is that whatever middle eight are on top it’s their two midfielders who are going to look better than anyone. You’re going to need a lot of help from your half-back, half-forward line and if you do get that it’s going to make your job a lot easier.”
Moran’s decision to hang up the boots and step away from the inter-county scene wasn’t one he made lightly, but persistent injuries, and a few too many birthdays, made it impossible to commit for another season. With Moran stepping off into the sunset, Jack O’Connor’s hand was somewhat forced as he tried to produce a new midfield pairing.
“I suppose they were unlucky, obviously. I retired while Stefan [Okunbor] and Joe [O’Connor] got injured, so of all the positions on the field they got a lot of hammer blows in the one position.
“Apart from expectations to try and do well for the team, the fact that there were not as many guys there this year as were there last year made a big difference.
“And new boys coming through, Diarmuid won two All-Irelands at minor level, has done well with his club and has fantastic performances sporadically for Kerry and it was great to see them play so well against Tyrone.”
There’s a romanticism that comes with the Kingdom midfield and Moran puts that down to the greats that have worn the number eight and nine jerseys in the past.
“It’s very hard to get away with it because some of the best players we’ve ever produced – the Mick O’Connells, Jack O’Sheas, Darragh O Ses; they are iconic players.
“It’s kind of grown out of the fantastic players we’ve produced, but I suppose as a young midfielder coming up you were always trying to be seen as of that kind of ilk, of the greats that played down through the years. It’s not something I ever thought about, I think it’s more of an outside thing. Someone like Diarmuid wearing number eight or whatever... I think he’s just trying to put another performance back-to-back, I’d imagine that’s what he’s thinking.”