Mayo will require at least one goal if they are to beat Tipperary, manager Stephen Rochford believes.
He would happily take a second consecutive 0-13 to 0-12 victory but doesn’t foresee Tipperary being held to a dozen points at Croke Park on Sunday. Analysing the win over Tyrone, Rochford says: “We didn’t create any goal chance, which wouldn’t necessarily be easy against Tyrone but is still something I think in order to beat Tipperary and the scores we accumulate we will need to be able to score a goal.
“Otherwise, you’re on about kicking 16 or 17 points and that’s a very difficult challenge considering the way they played against Galway anyway.”
As the team that succeeded in doing something Mayo didn’t, that is beating Galway, Tipperary don’t just have Rochford’s attention but their respect too even if that mightn’t be the same for every Mayo person.
“They also expected us to beat Galway and we didn’t,” he says of the danger of people’s perceptions of Mayo. “If that isn’t a lesson for what is outside the group and what can get talked about, maybe I’m not doing my job properly. I don’t see that being a factor at all. We’re acutely aware of what Tipperary bring. They had the standout result in the early rounds when they beat Cork and the way they regrouped after the Munster final defeat was really super, travelling to Cavan and the performance they put up against Galway, the team that handed us a good beating a number of weeks ago.
“If somebody just landed back in the country thinks all we have to do is turn up that certainly isn’t the language, the mood or vibe that’s currently in our camp.
The aspect here as well is Tipperary knocked Galway out so in some ways it can offer context in ways around what it was. It was the exact same Galway team that was beaten that had beaten us. We are very mindful of that. People may say we’re going to be favourites but that is something outside our control.” Results, not performances, were Rochford’s modus operandi through the backdoor. As long as there were signs of improvement, he didn’t mind. All of it in the face of pressure from supporters to cast aside the Galway result.
“I’m sure that was mounting anyway but the group put themselves under pressure because they’re guys who expect the highest of themselves and understood better than anybody the performance and the result of the Galway game wasn’t good enough, and no matter what you were doing throughout the qualifiers they were a means to an end and that was to get back to a quarter-final. If you were winning the game by three points or 23 points in some ways it didn’t matter because it brought you to the next step.”
Rochford accepts the display against Tyrone wasn’t perfect but it was still significant. “We always would have liked to be playing more consistent but we knew there was a big performance in the group, we had seen that in training, we had seen the focus and energy levels the boys had put in over the couple of weeks. Because it was Tyrone and provincial champions, your confidence will be sharpened being that sort of big team. I’ve every reason to believe we’ll get that out of the group when we get back to Croke Park.”
Having returned to their natural habitat of an All-Ireland semi-final, Rochford senses the players have rediscovered part of themselves. “The biggest thing is last week’s win was a bit of a release for the lads from the point of view they are going to be playing with much more confidence than evident in games up to the quarter-final.”
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