I trust players to deliver, says Stephen Rochford

Stephen Rochford believes he won’t have much to do to motivate his players ahead of Sunday’s All-Ireland final.
I trust players to deliver, says Stephen Rochford

Alan Dillon will be aiming to make it fifth time lucky on Gaelic football’s ultimate day; for David Clarke, Keith Higgins, Andy Moran, and Barry Moran it’s a fourth final appearance, while the majority go into their third decider.

Ending that streak offers more than enough incentive but Rochford also points to how much Mayo are being written off.

“A lot of people will help me in relation to that,” he said about motivation.

“Look, that is words in print, past results, it is what an analyst says, it is an opinion.

“At the end of the day, we have to trust what we have been doing in training, what we believe will be the best way in presenting the team, and the evidence thus far has shown that the lads are certainly committed and alinged to what our plans are.

“It is going to take a massive, massive effort and rightly so. How else do you expect to win an All-Ireland if you aren’t going to take out the very, very best team? That is the position we find ourselves in.”

The absence of Ger Cafferkey since March has forced Mayo to be creative around full-back, Kevin McLoughlin operating as a sweeper before Barry Moran was deployed there against Tipperary to discourage them from pumping ball into Michael Quinlivan and Conor Sweeney.

It’s obvious Mayo are operating a horses-for-courses policy in that area. “That position has probably been occupied by different Westport men over the past couple of games. It is not a particular concern, it is not something that really has been on our agenda.

“We will look to get a defensive unit that can hopefully cope with what Dublin will bring to it. Positional-wise, it hasn’t been an element of focus for us.”

What Mayo must avoid is showing Dublin too much respect in starving their forward line. “I think invariably if you don’t win the game you could be criticised for that,” says Rochford.

“So in the result lies the answer. They just have a lot, a lot of quality. Not giving them that due respect leaves you open for what could be a very difficult day at the office. We will certainly be giving them all the respect they duly deserve. Whether that will be enough time will tell.”

Were he to heed Jim McGuinness’s advice, Rochford would have been sizing up Dublin from a long way out but he says he couldn’t afford to be so indulgent.

“I think where we found ourselves going through the qualifiers, you needed to retain a very immediate focus on what was presented to you week-in, week-out. We have been looking to improve our own level of performance but certainly Dublin are now on our radar since 5.05 (on August 21).

“A lot of people probably say the team that beats Dublin is the team that wins the All-Ireland, they will be right. They have been the market leaders in performance, in quality, and certainly in the trophy cabinet for the last number of years.

“I think they’ve probably set the benchmark over the past four years about getting to a point where if you are beating Dublin, you are getting to a very, very high level. We saw that with Donegal being the last team to beat them in the championship, it takes a performance of a peak level to be able to do that.”

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