Moran calls for new penalty to deal with late kick-out chaos
Cynical play aimed at disrupting kick-outs in the closing stages of tight games should be punished by allowing the team in possession to restart from the halfway line, Mayo footballer Andy Moran has proposed.
The trend of blocking opponents by illegal means to prevent short kick-outs and cause as much mayhem as possible has been growing in recent years.
Dublin profited from their cynical disruption of David Clarke's final kick-out in last year's All-Ireland final when they were a point down - resulting in a black card for Ciarán Kilkenny - while disorder was also brought to Donegal's last kick-out after Kevin McLoughlin's spectacular late equaliser in their recent Allianz Division 1 relegation battle in Ballybofey secured top-flight status for Mayo for another year.
Moran has rejected the suggestion that Mayo cynically slowed down the Donegal kick-out by blocking opposing players movements, causing altercations around the field that the officials had to deal with and says it didn't compare to recent highlighted cases.
"I haven't watched the game back since, I don't usually watch games back that often but, from my view there was one tussle between Paddy (Durcan) and one of the Donegal players and it became a melee.
"If you compare that to other cynical play that went on in games before, I don't think it's even a comparison," he said. "I could be wrong, there could have been five or six around the field, but that's the only one I saw. It's something that you have to do, but it's a rule change that has to come in. I don't hold it against any team who do it."
By moving the ball 50 metres to the halfway line, the Mayo forward believes teams will think twice about introducing restraining tactics.
Moran admitted the Donegal game was one they had "targeted" six weeks in advance. "That game was a huge target for us six weeks before. It became a bigger target when we lost Cillian (O'Connor) and Lee (Keegan) and we had a few others. Keith (Higgins) wasn't back, Chris Barrett and Brendan Harrison weren't back," he recalled.
"We always thought that we would get a chance. Did we think it would be the last kick of the game? No, we didn't but to get the draw up there was a huge psychological boost."
It has been a bruising league for Mayo with the loss of Keegan and Evan Regan to big hits and opposition players sent off against them in five of their seven games against Monaghan, Kerry, Galway, Dublin and Tyrone.
The physical stakes have been ratcheted up on them but Moran said there were "no arguments" about the nature of the challenges that put either man out of the game for extended periods.
"Both were physical but we'd have no argument about either of them. That's the nature of the game. We weren't happy with the way we used the ball against Tyrone. A few of our passes were off and there was a bit of that in those incidents as well," he figured.
The weather has also been a factor. "We've actually had the worst weather I've ever seen playing league football. We've barely played on a decent pitch. Our pitch in Castlebar has been poor. It slows the game down and allows tussles, which would normally be a tackle or a brush-off. It creates more contact, pushing and shoving.
"I don't think you'll see the same level of red and yellow cards going into the summer when the pitch quickens and the ball quickens."
Moran is the current Footballer of the Year but at 34 doesn't see how such a prestigious title could burden him.
"If I won it at 24 or 25, would I have struggled the following year? Probably, because my maturity levels wouldn't have been high enough. But I don't have time to be waiting. I'm 35 in November and I know my time is limited playing for Mayo and I'm going to try and use every second of it."
Moran was always confident Keith Higgins would return as he did earlier this week with attendance at his first training session. "A massive relief when you see him walking through the door. He gives fellas huge confidence when he's around the place."
Moran is not swayed by the view that it's Mayo and Galway's biggest meeting in two decades on May 13 because of the respective positions of both counties. He does feel it is quite a reflection of Connacht football that there are now three teams from the province in Division 1.
"We've always been the province that is talked down, that there's no competition. Now, three of the eight teams in Division 1 are from the smallest province of the lot. It's great to see.
"Is it the biggest game in 20 years? It gets the same net value, winning a Connacht title in 2011 or 2017 is the same as winning one in 2018, it's still going to be a Connacht title."