He has undoubtedly felt the glare of being under the microscope, for he has been the focus of attention since taking over the reins at Mayo.
The circumstances of Stephen Rochford’s appointment dictated that, though just like Micheál O’Donoghue with Galway hurlers, they were not of his doing.
But with Noel Connelly and Pat Holmes jettisoned by the players, the heat was on.
Nobody took much notice of a nondescript League campaign but when they wilted so badly against Galway, and hardly took your eye out against Fermanagh, the scrape of knives being sharpened could be heard in the distance.
In truth, it is the players that would be subjected to the greatest criticism, but Rochford’s contribution to the apparent drop in performance would be implicit in that.
So there must have been a sense of satisfaction as he came out on top of a battle of wills and wits with one of the game’s sharpest minds in Mickey Harte.
If so, he was keeping it to himself. It was business as usual and Rochford was focussing on what they needed to do better, particularly unimpressed with the decision of his players to adopt their keep ball strategy within their own half of the pitch in the closing minutes.
“It was controlled up to about 68 minutes” Rochford noted. “Maybe in the past the lads would probably be reflecting if we had done this differently with a couple of minutes to go we could have closed out the game. We just did not play the game in the last stretch in the right area of the field. We played it too deep in Tyrone’s half and we asked them to come onto us a little bit. Anyway, we have an opportunity over the next two weeks to improve on that.”
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