Mind games work for Orient’s Mooney
- Credit: EMPICS Sport
Striker puts improvement down to psychologist
There’s an ironic chant which can be heard around Brisbane Road as Orient fans show their appreciation for David Mooney’s progress.
“He used to be shite but now he’s alright” is meant to be endearing his improvement in the last two years had been exponential.
If the 29-year-old Irishman scores in the League One play-off final against Rotherham, he will be the first O’s player to net 20 league goals in a season since Peter Kitchen 36 years ago.
So what does he put the dramatic change down to? A sports psychologist.
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If it’s good enough for Steven Gerrard and the English national team, it’s good enough for Mooney.
He said: “Two years ago I started talking to Enda McNulty, who used to be my gaelic football coach in Ireland and works with the Irish rugby team.
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“He helped put my head in the right place. Now I talk to him two or three times a month and I’ll probably talk to him on Friday before the final - although it didn’t seem to do me much good before the semi-final!
“It’s a release more than anything. Two years ago, I could take or leave football. Now, I watch it all the time. I fell back in love with the game.
“I took a long hard look at myself and it was something I needed to do.”
It has been a brilliant season for Mooney, who has enjoyed his most prolific return to date despite missing two months with a foot injury in the middle of the campaign.
His Championship experience has been restricted to nine appearances on loan at Nowich City in 2009 - a season which ended in relegation for the Canaries.
Mooney’s desperate for another crack at the second tier and has a couple of late bloomers to look up to for inspiration.
He said: “I feel I’ve got to prove to myself I can play at that level.
“When I came over from Ireland I came with a big reputation and I didn’t live up to it.
“The squad deserves a crack at the Championship, we’ve just got to get there.
“I look at players like Grant Holt and Rickie Lambert. They’re players who’ve had success a little bit later in their careers. They’ve faced rejection and come back stronger.”
Mooney has practised scoring the winning goal at Wembley in his back garden since the semi-final win over Peterborough.
He says that would cap a “brilliant season” - but what is the secret behind the O’s success alongside far more affluent opponents?
Simple - togetherness, according to the striker.
“We all get on well as a squad,” Mooney said. “It’s an easy environment to work in, I’m playing with good players and a lot of freedom.
“I feel settled at the club. I have a great relationship from the chairman down to Ada the kitman and Julie the cook.
“We’ve got a great manager and captain, we try and do things together if we can.
“Now it’s about 3pm Sunday and putting in a good performance. I’d take a goal off my backside!”