Stephen Rochford has praised Mayo County Board for making “a brave decision” in postponing this past weekend’s championship fixtures until after the All-Ireland final.
Clubs only found late last Tuesday week that their matches wouldn’t be going ahead but the call was made to ensure the senior footballers had a clear run to their clash with Dublin on September 18.
“We were thankful for the board to take what was a brave decision and for the clubs to be understanding. I know it was a very difficult situation for them as well but they have provided us with the best opportunity to prepare for the All-Ireland final.
“But what it did allow us was a proper week of recovery. People may lose this but it wasn’t just the Tipperary game but the group had played five games in seven weeks and that does take its toll as well.
“So to be able to give us those proper days of recovery and be able then to line guys up again... those club championship games are round three games and a number of them are very important for clubs as regards whether they finish top or second place and that affects quarter-final draws and all those things.”
Rochford wasn’t shocked by how good Dublin were in beating Kerry last Sunday. “I was very impressed as was everyone who watched it or was in attendance. But in many ways there wasn’t a lot that surprised you in it. A team that is undefeated in 26 or 27 games between league and championship in two seasons, that level of consistency was evident again in how they came back from the five-point deficit and it was more evidence of the quality they have and the threats that they have in most corners of the field.”
Bar long-term injury victims Ger Cafferkey and Jason Gibbons, Rochford reported a clean bill of health: “We have 33 fit guys at this moment.”
On the appointment of Conor Lane as referee for the final, he said: “We had him for the game against Galway in the championship. He’s a young guy whose made great strides through the referees’ panel.
“He refereed the Mayo-Tyrone minor final (in 2013) so I don’t think you go from refereeing a minor final to a senior final in three years unless you are very consistent.”
© Irish Examiner Ltd. All rights reserved