By Daragh Small
Galway star Gary Sice believes that Stephen Rochford, who he soldiered with for the past three years with Corofin, will be a big success with Mayo.
But Sice says friendships will be put to one side when he plots the downfall of his good friend in the summer.
The 31-year-old saw at first hand what Rochford is capable of when he guided Corofin to All-Ireland club title last March.
In doing so, Rochford became the first person to win an Andy Merrigan Cup as a player and a manager – he previously claimed the crown in 2001 with his native Crossmolina.
Rochford took over Mayo after Corofin’s defeat to Castlebar Mitchels in the Connacht club final this winter.
He begins his reign next Sunday when they host Castlebar in the FBD League in Castlebar as he tries to end Mayo’s All-Ireland title drought stretching back to 1951.
Mayo will be bidding for an unprecedented sixth Connacht title in a row in 2016 but they need to beat London to set up a provincial semi-final meeting with Sice’s Galway at Castlebar.
Sice relishes the opportunity to line out against his former manager and says while they will be enemies once the ball is thrown in, they carry on their friendship afterwards.
“Stephen Rochford has had a huge part to play in my career in the last three years,” he said.
“He will be a good friend of mine, no matter what happens. But it will be lovely to play his team down in Castlebar.
“After the game we will be having the craic again, but up until that point, once the game starts down in Castlebar he is on the wrong side as far as I’m concerned. We will see how it goes after that.
“Once the game is over again, it’s Stephen Rochford, he will always be welcome in Corofin, and he is a good friend of mine.
“He is a class act, a good guy. He is just very, very good at what he does, excellent altogether.
“He is probably the best manager I have ever had and he is a good guy to deal with.
“You are going to see that throughout his Mayo management. He is a good guy to deal with all around. I wish him luck down there, but hopefully not against us,” added Sice.