A great novelist once wrote that “all peasants know the crop must fail.” There’s a world of understanding in that short sentence.
If you’re an aristocrat, you don’t rely on the crop to the same extent. If it fails, you can always rack up the rent. But if you’re a peasant, the crop is all you’ve got and, at the back of your mind, you know that one morning you could go out there and your entire future could be destroyed. Too much sun, or too little, or too much rain, or too little, or one of a hundred other things can wipe you out. There are too many disasters out there for you to be able to avoid them all.
Mayo is a peasant county, with that peasant psyche. More so than most, in fact. At the back of the Mayo psyche there is a solemn drone behind the tune of life, that the crop will eventually fail and we will starve. That drone is loudly drowning out the melody now, as reality of Andy Moran’s absence from the senior football team hits home.
That the crop has failed once more, as we expected. Doom could only ever be postponed, rather than avoided, and now Doom is here, reaping his terrible harvest.
But this is just football. We’re getting carried away.
A friend of the blog likes to refer to Andy Moran as “Ever-Present-Andy.” In James Horan’s first league campaign as Mayo manager Horan changed at least six players a week. The one man he didn’t change was Andy. Andy was vital to Horan. Andy was going nowhere if Horan had anything to do with it.
But Horan can’t always have something to do with it. There are some things you can’t fight, and sheer bad luck is one of them. A man is handed the black spot, and that’s all there is to it. He’s not the first, and he won’t be the last.
But in their mourning for Andy, Mayo are in danger of losing a season that is still very much ripe with possibility. A consensus is quickly building up that, while Mayo had a chance against Dublin, now Andy Moran is gone there is no chance at all.
Once his knee went, Andy Moran became Mayo’s Eoghan Roe O’Neill, our Patrick Sarsfield, our Gile Mear. The great lost leader. But that’s not who he was going into the game.
Andy Moran is a vital part of the Mayo team, sure. But did anyone think of the team as Andy Moran and fourteen other bucks before he hurt his knee? Was Andy Moran Mayo’s Declan Browne, or Mickey Kearins, or Paddy Bradley, or a host of other fellas who were asked to carry their teams on their own?
No, he wasn’t. Andy Moran’s loss is huge. But to say it’s an extinction-level event is not true. Andy Moran isn’t irreplaceable, and the sooner that penny drops and the sooner the players concentrate on whatever it is they’re going to do to get past Dublin the better. New Zealand lost Dan Carter in the Rugby World Cup. They still struggled through somehow.
Andy Moran will still have a role to play, and if Mayo do get past Dublin then his role will be even bigger. It’s a bitter pill for the man himself, who is a gentleman by all accounts, but he can still do his bit for Mayo.
Even though it will break his heart to do it from the sideline or the dressing room rather than amidst the shot and shell, there is still a role for him in the context of the squad and the dream. Andy Moran has manned up for Mayo in the past. Now it’s time for Mayo to man up for Andy.
FOCAL SCOIR: The novelist? Lee Child, of course.