Stephen Rochford looking to create history with Mayo

New Mayo manager Stephen Rochford says his team will be “looking to write their own history, game by game, performance by performance” next year.

Stephen Rochford looking to create history with Mayo

Rochford, who was appointed for a three-year term on Monday, held a media briefing at MacHale Park, Castlebar last night and reiterated his intention to “embrace” the pressure that goes with managing the Connacht champions.

Looking ahead to next season, the 37-year-old bank manager said he wanted Mayo to be “ultra-competitive” again in 2016.

He also confirmed the entire 2015 squad had declared themselves available for selection again next year.

“We need to get back to a situation where we are ultra-competitive across all games,” said the Crossmolina native.

“There’ll be a few new players, that’s just inevitable, but we haven’t sat down with any big goals yet, we’re two days in the job.

“But we’ll be looking to be competitive and, every day we go out, that we can be honest and say we did ourselves, and the county proud. If we do that, I think we’ll be going in the right direction.

“We can’t change 2014 or 2015, or back as far as 1951... We’re looking at 2016 to write our own element of history, and that’s game by game, performance by performance.”

Rochford won plenty of admirers during his managerial stint with Corofin, winning three successive Galway county titles, one Connacht crown, and an All-Ireland last March.

However, he admits that his ultimate aim was always to manage the Mayo seniors.

“I’m very honoured, its my own home county,” he explained.

“I understand it’s a big job but that’s a credit to the players and the previous management that they have made it that job that it is. I’m just looking forward to green grass, footballs and the end of December and early January.”

Mayo are currently regarded as third favourites (behind Dublin and Kerry) to win next year’s All-Ireland senior title, and will be gunning for their sixth Connacht championship in a row next summer.

They begin their National League campaign away to Cork on Sunday, January 31, followed by a home game against All-Ireland champions, Dublin, in Castlebar.

Rochford and his management team — which includes Armagh-based Tony McEntee and Kerry native Donie Buckley, as well as home-based selector Seán Carey — will be without former All Star Cillian O’Connor (injured) for the entire league campaign.

Mickey Conroy is currently sidelined with an Achilles injury while Alan Dillon and Andy Moran have “slight knocks”.

Tom Cunniffe, Paddy Durcan, Barry Moran, Danny Kirby and Neil Douglas (club commitments with Castlebar Mitchels) will also be absent for at least those two opening fixtures.

As a result, Rochford confirmed that he plans to blood “10 or 12 new guys” during the FBD League next month with a view to using some of them for the early rounds of the national league.

“Our record will show that we find it difficult going to Cork, then we have the All-Ireland champions here in Castlebar.

“I wouldn’t be saying there’s no chance for [new] guys, it’s really what the next seven or eight weeks will show.

“We’re going to take it session by session but, believe you me, guys are going to be challenged over the next seven to eight weeks.

“I’d anticipate that we’ll look at 10 or 12 [new] guys over the three rounds of the FBD League and into the first two rounds of the National League.

“A number of guys from Castlebar would have been on our radar but we’re not going to have access to them until their club campaign is over.”

Rochford is due to meet with the Mayo squad for the first time tomorrow week as the countdown begins to the start of the FBD Connacht League campaign against NUI, Galway on Sunday, January 3 in Castlebar.

“We will experiment during the league, we will want to maintain our Division 1 status, and if we get more from it, then that’s good,” he added.

“But there will be no talk of All-Irelands or anything like that. Connacht will be very competitive and we want to prepare for that.”

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