Mickey Moran's over 40-year career in Gaelic football management appears to be over.

The 69-year-old has stepped down from his position as Kilcoo manager, three weeks after leading the Down champions to the All-Ireland club SFC title, and has privately signalled his intention to call it a day.

Kilcoo were staring down the barrel of back-to-back defeats on the big day before Jerome Johnston's last-second goal secured victory over Kilmacud Crokes.

It was a first All-Ireland crown as a manager for the Derry man, who took charge of his native county three times - the first as a 29-year-old player manager in 1981 - leading them to a league title in 1994/5.

The Maghera native was coach to Eamon Coleman for the Oak Leafer's sole All-Ireland triumph to date in 1993

Moran also had stints in charge of Donegal, Sligo, Leitrim and Mayo, leading the Green and Red to the 2006 Connacht title and All-Ireland final, where they were beaten by Kerry.

He has also managed numerous college, underage and club teams, steering Slaughtneil to All-Ireland finals in 2015 and 2017.

Conor Laverty (L), Mickey Moran (C) and Aidan Branagan

Kilcoo club secretary Seamus O'Hanlon said that he understood Moran, who turns 70 in April, was going into retirement after confirming his departure to the players last night.

"It was a very amicable parting of ways," O'Hanlon told RTÉ Sport. "The players gave him a guard of honour last night going into the changing rooms. It shows the regard he was held in.

"His name is forever going to be held in very high regard in Kilcoo. We hope he won't be a stranger and I don't think he will be.

"He was the conductor of the orchestra. When he came (in 2019) we got our first ever Ulster title and got to an All-Ireland final.

"We weren't a million miles away against Corofin and then unfortunately Covid came into the scenario. We came back and reclaimed the Ulster title and the rest is history.

"But apart from all that, he's a nice person. He had the trust of every one of our senior players and they trusted him emphatically.

"For a man to come in to a parish that was alien to him three years ago and be held in that sort of regard shows you his nature."

Kilcoo joint-captains Conor Laverty and Aidan Branagan insisted that Moran join them before they lifted the Andy Merrigan Cup last month.

"This dream wasn't happening without Mickey so there was no way we were lifting that cup without him," said Laverty after the dramatic triumph at Croke Park.

"That man needed that. We spoke as a group that we were going to do that for him this year and there was no other way about it.

"That man needed to manage a team to an All-Ireland before his coaching career ended. That man means everything to us."

Then assistant manager Conleith Gilligan, who will take over the team with Richie Thornton this year, added: "There was a sense that everybody knew what it meant to him. He gives so much and asks for so little, especially the older players, they just really wanted to do it for him. I know that's a cliché but it was really true."