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From Dublin Gaelic football All-Ireland hero to the man who went on to win 71 caps for the Republic of Ireland, Kevin Moran epitomised everything that was good about the game in the Eoin Hand and Jack Charlton eras with superlative performances for both club and country.
A central defender of the highest quality during his day with Manchester United, Spanish side Sporting Gijon and Blackburn Rovers, Moran never flinched a tackle in his life. The scars on his forehead tell that story to this day -.painful reminders of an uncompromising approach to the game - in any code.
It was back in 1978 that Dublin's Man Utd. scout Billy Behan tipped off then United boss Dave Sexton regarding Moran's potential to make the then giant step from Croke Park to Old Trafford. The wise Behan had seen Moran in operation in an FAI Cup first round tie between Pegasus and Dundalk, a match watched by just 150 people.
Ron Atkinson was later to take over at the helm at Old Trafford and Moran's great adventure was on the road. He played in five matches of the five World Cup qualifying games when Ireland, under Eoin Hand, were desperately unlucky not to qualify for the finals in Spain, 1982.
There was huge contention for central defenders places in those years with Ireland blessed by the presence of Mark Lawrenson, Dave O'Leary, Mick McCarthy and Paul McGrath. Big Jack Charlton eventually found the solution by playing Larwenson and McGrath in midfield and it worked a dream. Moran and McCarthy were the men for centre of defence.
To this day, Moran is rightly still angry about the red card card he received in Manchester United's English FA Cup final 1-0 victory against Everton at Wembley in 1985. It was one of the harshest decisions ever witnessed at the home of English football after a harmless challenge on Peter Reid.
But the glory days were still ahead with Moran a key figure in Charlon's magnificent European Championship finals campaign in then West Germany in 1988, that 1-0 victory over England in Stuttgart, the 1-1 draw with the Soviet Union in Hanover and then the heartbreak of the single goal defeat by Holland in Gelsenkirchen.
At the World Cup finals at Italia '90 Moran was an ever-present in those games against England, Egypt, Holland and Italy. Those privileged to watch his career in both Gaelic and soccer will always remember Kevin's bravery, commitment and outstanding endeavour for all his clubs and country.
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