Mayo manager Stephen Rochford has no fears about his side’s ever-increasing list of engagements, as the county faces up to its ninth championship game of the summer next Saturday, writes
Sunday’s draw with Kerry in the All-Ireland semi-final was just the latest in a long line of incredible games involving the Connacht county. The replay, in Croke Park in six days’ time, will be their second of the campaign and two more ties have required extra-time.
Tyrone famously claimed Sam Maguire in 2005 on the back of a ten-game odyssey. Mayo will have to match that - although few would rule out yet another replay along the way if they did - in order to end an All-Ireland drought that stretches back to their last title in 1951.
“I'm sure at some stage I'll say yes to that question but it's not going to be this week,” said Rochford when asked about the possibility of fatigue setting in.
“I thought we were doing the running there at the end. I've said this before, these guys are in great physical shape. We probably trained once this week and our recovery started 15 minutes ago.”
Rochford has made a habit of pulling tactical rabbits out of the hat in his term in charge and the latest was the decision to task Aidan O’Shea with the job of marking Kieran Donaghy on the edge of the Mayo square.
O’Shea had his moments but he was unable to prevent the Kerry forward from having a major say on affairs. Rochford, for his part, was coy in summing up whether the move was a success or otherwise.
“Bit early to be too clinical in the analysis of it. We need to go back on the video and just sort of see what benefits we got out of it, what worked well and what needs to improve. But, look, we're halfway through. We haven't lost anything from it, we haven't gained anything from it.”
He added: “Aidan has played full-back for us in a couple of instances. Earlier this year he played full-back for a while against Donegal, Michael Murphy. Last year he played full back against Kildare on Kevin Feely.
“He's one of our best tacklers. Obviously his physical presence versus the physical and aerial threat that Kerry might bring in that area ... We'll look back on it and we'll see if things worked from it or did we lose something from it.”
Managers tend to be based on the evidence of scorelines rather than the moments and decisions that shape them, of course. Rochford said as much himself so this was one game that can go down as no more than a qualified success.
“We're still in the competition. We probably would have felt that we had good momentum at one or two stages in the game. We obviously conceded goals that we'd be a bit disappointed with.
“We'll need to review them and see what was the source of them. We've been down this track a couple of times. A six-day turnaround isn't the biggest deal to us. We'll be back for next week.”