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Interview with Liam Moran

posted 4 Dec 2012, 11:44 by Edenderry GAA

THERE are plenty of men in Offaly who can say they have won numerous county medals playing in different positions but perhaps very few, if any, can say they won their first as a goalie and their second as a half forward. 

Liam Moran is one such man and in this exclusive interview with the former Offaly and Edenderry footballer he reveals how his life as goalkeeper all began at the age of nineteen.

He is the latest recipient of the Hall of Fame award from his club Edenderry and he talks candidly about the infamous 7 aside tournaments of the ‘50’s.

Moran also discusses men like Clarence Grey, the former Offaly manager Fr Tom Gilhooley, his proudest moments in GAA and of course the rarest story of them all, a Kildare man with an All-Ireland medal, his father ‘Ginger’.

Who were your biggest influences on football when you were growing up?

“Without a doubt my father would have been the biggest influence. He played full back for Kildare when they won the All-Ireland in 1919 against Galway. He was shifted in to full back for the final but up to that he had played at half forward. He was moved in to mark the Galway full forward, a man by the name of Mick ‘The Knacker’ Walsh. He was their main scorer and he held him to one point. In fact Galway only scored one point the whole game because it finished 2-5 0-1. I never saw an All-Ireland with a team only scoring one point before. It was Kildare’s second All-Ireland title having won the first in 1905 and then they went on to do two in a row in 1927 and ’28. It was the only time a team ever won the All-Ireland with the exact same personnel as the year before”.

Who were your footballing heroes when you were growing up?

“There was a good few of them. Tommy Murphy of Laois known as ‘The Boy Wonder’ in the 1940’s was one. I never seen him playing but I remember reading about him. They brought him on to the scene at seventeen or eighteen and nobody could catch a ball with him. The Laois team of ’43 and ’44 there was about six Delaney’s from Stradbally on it and they were all very good. Mick Jones the right half back was another great player. He was actually a Carlow man by birth but sure half of Carlow town is in Laois. He was from Graigecullen”. 

Did you play much hurling with Edenderry?

“I played a little bit of hurling in the goals but I was no good”!

How long did you play with the Edenderry senior team?

“I was a sub on and off around ’51 and ’52 but I was full time between 1953 and 1959”.

You won your first senior medal as a goalie in 1953 and your second in 1957 outfield. How did that come about?

“Micháel Nolan was a very good forward but he hurt his knee as far as I remember so we were struggling for forwards. I had played all my football at half forward right up until minor. I happened to be in the field one day practicing and I stayed on to watch a match against Round Towers of Kildare when I was finished. Some of the players were late arriving and Clarence Grey came over to me and asked me would I stand in the goals. They only had fourteen players! God I was so delighted to get that red jersey. I didn’t have togs. I just played in my trousers and wherever the ball went it just seemed to stick to me. It was more luck than anything else I just dived and it hit me more often than not. I’d never played there before in my life. Jim Mackey who played for Kildare was their trainer. Ned and Paddy Loughlin, Ned Treacy and Seamus Aldridge were playing for Round Towers that day. At half time Mackey came over to Clarence and said they should be winning but that’s a great young goalie you have and what’s his name. ‘He’s a Moran’ said Clarence. ‘Is he anything to Ginger’ Mackey replied. After that I never got out of the goals again until Mickey Nolan got injured in ’57 and the odd street league game. I think I played half forward in a street league final but ‘Hoopers’ team murdered us. He cleaned us out that day”.

Should Offaly have won the Leinster in 1954?

“We’d have won the Leinster that year only they took Hooper off so early. I think there was only three minutes gone. He was very unfairly treated by the county board. Peter McDermott of Meath came on and scored two goals and they beat us by three points and went on to win the All-Ireland. Paddy Casey missed a penalty for Offaly that day. They had some great players like Paddy O’Brien, Mick O’Brien, Paddy Connell and Peter McDermott but they were all in their thirties and they expected us to beat them. The talk was if they were to have any hope they would have to stop the two Casey’s at midfield”.

Offaly did manage to win the very first O’Byrne cup that year. Tell us about that?

“It was played a month after the Leinster final and we beat Louth by two points, 0-10 to 1-5. The two Casey’s were outstanding in the middle of the field. They are definitely two of the best players I ever saw playing for Offaly or even in Ireland. Unfortunately they had nothing with them. You’re better off with fifteen players above average than just two stars”.

What were the 7 aside tournaments like in Edenderry in the ‘50’s?

“They were famous. The 7 aside tournaments were great crack. Edenderry GAA and the golf club in conjunction made a lot of money out of them tournaments. There were thousands of people attending them and there was even people sitting up in the tree’s watching them. Kilcock had a great team back then. They would have had four or five Kildare footballers on their team such as Davy Dalton, Larry McCormack, Paddy Gibbons and my cousin Noel Moran. Edenderry actually wanted to enter a second team into them tournaments but we weren’t allowed. We were all pretty even ability wise but we had two great forwards in Micháel Nolan and Joe Bohman. They worked so well together and they got more goals. Frank Gorey was a great corner back and a great man marker. He never fouled his man. Frank Byrne was another good player. Hooper was brilliant at midfield too and he had a great pair of hands. He should never have been dropped off that Offaly team. Mick Brady was midfield with Hooper”.

Did Edenderry play in many other tournaments?

“Yes we played in the Enfield, Kilcock, Maynooth and the Timahoe tournaments. We won them all except for Maynooth when Dunboyne of Meath beat us in the final. They had a great little forward by the name of ‘Ring-Board Reilly’. The club had no money at the time and they were going to suspend us because they sent word that we didn’t have permission to enter. Joe Byrne said at the time he would manage us and he told us he would get us into the tournaments. He knew plenty of people in Enfield and them area’s through selling calves. Joe actually played against Dunboyne that day. He came on for ten minutes and upended ‘Ring-Board Reilly. A huge row broke out and all the Kilcock and Maynooth players got involved too. They didn’t like Dunboyne so they were on our side”.

Who were the best players you played against?

“Davy Dalton from Kilcock would go through stone. Once he got the ball you wouldn’t stop him. He gave me many a clatter! I remember one time they beat us in the final of a tournament and after it Noel Moran, my cousin, came up to our house to see my father. Larry McCormack and Davy Dalton used to travel with him in the car and Davy stayed in the car he wouldn’t come in! I think he was afraid my mother would attack him! I got great with him years after. He was a very hard man and built like a tank. Gerry O’Reilly of Wicklow was another great player but he never got any attention because Wicklow never got past the first round. Andy Murphy of Carlow and Paddy Dunne of Laois made up the half back line of the ’54 Leinster team”.

Who were the best players you played with for Edenderry?

“There are so many great players I played with. Hooper Farrell and Christy Carroll were two great players. We lost in 1955 to Rhode because we were without Christy and Sean Foran for the first fifteen minutes of the game. Christy was gone shooting and the only person that could ever get around him was Sean, so he went to get him. There was little or no time left. We had got the upper hand but Rhode were still one point up. They sent a long ball in to our half and Mick Brady caught it. He took off on one of his trademark runs and he got tripped for a free at centre field. Mick McCabe god rest him for Rhode kicked the ball out over the sideline to waste time and was running back into the full forward line to his position. The referee turned around and went after him but unfortunately Tom O’Neill met him first. The referee then gave the free in to Rhode and put Tom off and they put in a sub for the man that was carried off. We should have won at least two more championships during that period”.

What was your proudest moment for Edenderry?

“Winning the two championships in ’53 and ’57 were both great. We beat Clara well in ’57 and I scored a goal although it was never put down to me. Hooper claimed it! I’ve said it to him several times and he said it doesn’t matter who got it we won! He got one goal and I got one. I remember the match well it had to be stopped at one stage due to hail stones. During one of the stoppages, Paddy Fenlon had told me to hang in around the square for the loose ball and I did. When the ball fell all I had to do was pull on it. Myself, Hooper and Mickey Connor had some great times kicking ball out in cod bog together but. Another proud moment was seen my son playing in Croke Park in the Leinster championship. Mark was the goalie. And during the summer my granddaughter played in the Fr McWey tournament and Lucy was joint captain and they won it”.

What kind of impact had Clarence Grey got on Edenderry GAA?

“He had a huge impact. Sure he was Edenderry. There’s no doubt about it he kept the place going. He ran the carnivals too and every time you would win a match you got a free ticket to the dance that night and a free super. The super was a bun and tea! The three Nolan women handled the food, Claire, Kathleen and Monica. I saw recently that Edenderry GAA upgraded his graveside and gave him a new headstone. It was great to see it getting tidied up because it was very derelict. They did a great job on it”.

Did you ever coach any teams?

“No it never interested me at all”.

You were received the Edenderry GAA Hall of Fame award for 2011. What did that mean to you?

“It meant a lot to me. It’s another very proud moment for me and my family. It’s always nice to be remembered or acknowledged.

What was it like working with Fr Gilhooley with Offaly minors?

“He was very good. I was refereeing a lot of minor matches at the time and Fr Tom went to the county board and said he wanted me to cover the north Offaly side of things. He got Brendan Clarke from Ferbane and Tom Fleming from Ballycumber. We would meet regularly and everybody worked as hard as they could and it showed. I remember him saying to each of the selectors that any man was worth a trial but he didn’t want to hear about club representation. I was delighted to hear that. He rang me one night to advise me about a player in Rhode that I’d missed called Michael Byrne. I went to Rhode to see him in a minor match and he caught some great ball. He was nearly the winning of the All-Ireland that year. He faded off the scene then and never went on to senior”.

The players from the ‘50’s teams met up before last year’s county final for lunch. Was it nice to catch up with old friends?

“That was a very nice day and it was a lovely touch from Edenderry’s committee to organise and pay for it. It was nice to meet up with everyone and I think it’s something that should be done more often. Some lads gave their lives to GAA and never won a medal at all. Time is getting short for a lot of us”!