Each one has its charms. The breakthrough nature of the 2009 win, when he featured off the bench, will always hold a special place. By 2014 he was a key man for Éamonn Fitzmaurice. And this time around, with more football behind him than ahead, he forced his way back from a serious injury sustained in last year’s county final to reclaim his place in the side.
“It is like choosing your favourite kid,” Moran smiles. “They are all sweet but they are all very different. This year, I came back from injury and I was kinda hanging on the lads’ coattails a little bit. It was great to see them driving on. But having my little man on the field [on Sunday] made this a little sweeter too.”
With the win in ’09, he was guilty of the expectation of youth. Every year, he reasoned, would be the same with Kerry at the top of the tree.
“When I was a minor in ’06, I was at the function when they won it. I was training in ’07, wasn’t in the squad, and they won it. I came in in ’08, and we lost the final. Then in ’09, we won it. And I was thinking this is going to last forever. And then it didn’t. I had come in through that, so I know that it just doesn’t happen every year.
“Eight years is obviously a very long time in Kerry and having lost in ’15 and ’19, it was extra sweet this one.
“There is a real good squad ethos. Jack [O’Connor] keeps talking about the panel mentality and there is a lot of that, it is very collective and there is real unity there. And the younger lads brought a bit of freshness. So, it just feels as if I am part of the squad, like anyone else.”
Along the way he’s had to deal with several setbacks. He carried with him a famous name, and the talent to boot, but it didn’t come easily either. There have been serious knee problems and a freak eye injury that combined cost him the best part of three seasons in his formative years.
In some ways, however, perhaps those blows helped him recover from the groin problem that kept him out of the early part of this season. Even at 34, he never felt the injury would bring the curtain down on his county career.
“It did come off the bone, I was lucky I didn’t need surgery but it was a four- or five-month injury. At the time, I didn’t know it was that serious, I thought I would just get back but it wasn’t getting better and then I had a little bit of a setback and that kept me out of the league, which I had been hoping to get back for. But I am sitting here the morning after an All-Ireland so it worked out fine.
“I have had so many injuries now and I have got back from all of them. Once you do the rehab, you get back. We have very good medical guys here and we had access to the best medical guys around. I was told, ‘If you do this rehab, you will get back’. I just trusted that I would.”
When he got back he re-established himself with Kerry. And though he didn’t reappear for the second half last Sunday, he insists it couldn’t matter less.
“I felt I had the work done. I only missed one session and that was after the Dublin game, I hadn’t missed a session up to that. And when you are in there, you are pushing as hard as you can, it was up to Jack [O’Connor] and the lads to decide how to use me. I wanted to play as much as I could. Jack Barry getting injured just opened the door for someone. Sure look, [it] wasn’t my best performance but it didn’t really matter because we won.”
The question of what comes next is for another day. For now Moran will bask in the glow of another All-Ireland success.