Moran urges Mayo to keep knocking on Croker's door
"I HAVE no doubt about it," Mayo's Andy Moran argues, "that two years ago that same team would have lost the game in the Connacht final against Sligo."
Moran recounts their narrow two-point success over the Yeats men and having been around the Mayo senior team since making his championship debut against New York in 2004, he's in a better place to comment than most.
He's been through the mill on the All-Ireland finals of his debut season and 2006. He was there too in 2010 when they bombed to defeats by Sligo and Longford. Moran has been to the puppet show and seen the strings, but believes that by perseverance, Mayo will prevail in September.
"Knocking on the door is the key," insists the Ballaghaderreen man.
"The way we were coming before -- we came in 2004, didn't perform in 2005; we came again in 2006, but we haven't been seen since.
"We needed to get to a situation where we are not just coming for one year. Of course, we have good players, but we are not going to win like that.
"You have to keep putting yourself in the door, keep coming to Croke Park and some day you will push down the door like Dublin and Cork did.
"I think we need to prove ourselves in the All-Ireland series, 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.
"We are in an area now where we have won three out of four Connachts; we've made two National League finals in the last few years; we've been in a (All-Ireland) semi-final last year and a quarter-final in 2009 -- that's what we need to keep doing.
"We need to keep putting ourselves in position to win and some day it will happen. Maybe it mightn't be this year, but we'll try our best to make sure that it is."
Moran was outstanding as Mayo reached the last four last year and earned himself an All-Star.
"We are probably trying to peak at the right times and not doing stupid stuff," says Moran, who works with highly-rated Mayo trainer Cian O'Neill, who helped steer Tipperary to All-Ireland hurling success in 2010.
"I know, myself, I was a stone heavier in 2008 from all the weights I've done, so I've actually come down in weight. It's being able to tackle and being able to keep to the pace of the game -- that's the key thing and that's what we've improved on."
It's 12 months since they ousted the then reigning All-Ireland champions Cork at the last-eight stage and struck a significant blow against their poor record in Croke Park -- something that is repeatedly thrown at them.
They followed that up this spring with a league semi-final win over Kerry and Moran insists Mayo relish their visits to HQ.
"We love playing there to be honest. It was great to get a run out there in the semi-final and final of the National League. I'd say I played 20 games there and I've won over 50pc of them, so there's a myth there all right.
"The two All-Ireland finals I played in we lost and we were by far the worst team on both occasions. Kerry were a far superior team and that's the reason we lost the games-- not because Mayo didn't play."