FOR many, the opportunity to play in Croke Park can be a once in a lifetime opportunity. However, for many intercounty stars, the ultimate annual dream is to contest All-Ireland finals at GAA headquarters.
For Mayo’s Andy Moran, it is no different. The star forward has racked up 13 appearances at Croker, with another upcoming occasion this Saturday due to his side’s clash with Down in the first of this year’s All-Ireland football quarter-finals.
Speaking to the Irish Examiner, Moran admitted that he is relishing another opportunity to play at the Dublin venue, with a bumper weekend of football ahead for fans.
“We like playing there, we love playing there, to be honest,” the former All-Star said.
“It was great to get a run out there in the semi-final and final of the National League. I’d say if I played 20 games there, I’ve won over 50% of them so that’s a myth there all right.”
Impressive statistics, one might say. However, past results in Croker haven’t been the most optimistic, with All-Ireland final losses in 2004 and 2006 (both at the hands of Kerry) again brought to plentiful attention in recent times.
“We need to prove ourselves in the All-Ireland series,” Moran continued, “but our main aim is to copy the Cork and Dublin model. It’s as simple as that. Dublin have won eight out of nine Leinsters, which is the way to go.”
Mayo’s recent run of results have indeed proved encouraging, winning three out of four Connacht titles, along with reaching two national league finals in the last couple of years.
Added to this, the team from the West have competed in the 2011 All-Ireland semi-final, and the quarter-final back in 2009, which bodes well for this weekend.
“We need to keep putting ourselves in position to win and some day it will come through. Maybe it mightn’t be this year but we’ll try our best to make sure it is this year.”
Come this Saturday night, Moran and his team-mates will hopefully be preparing for another All-Ireland semi-final. Throw in at Croke Park this Saturday for their encounter with Down is at 5pm.