Stephen Rochford: ‘When you haven’t your hands on the Holy Grail, you’re an easy target’

Mayo manager Stephen Rochford says he “doesn’t really care” why he and his players seem to attract criticism on a regular basis.

Speaking at a press briefing in Castlebar last night ahead of their Connacht SFC semi-final against Galway on June 11, Rochford was asked about recent criticism of Mayo’s Aidan O’Shea and the negative press that the Mayo management and squad as a whole have received since last year’s All-Ireland Final defeat to Dublin.

“I suppose when you haven’t got your hands on the ‘Holy Grail’ you’re seen as an easy target,” said Rochford.

“But why we are [being criticised] doesn’t really concern me, “I don’t really care. I care about how we’re going to be over the next two and a half weeks, what shape we’re in, what work we’ve done, and that we’re ready for Galway.

“What people at laptops write or columnists have to say won’t save a point for us, or help us score one against Galway.”

O’Shea was singled out for stinging criticism by both former Meath footballer Bernard Flynn last week and ex-Dublin performance advisor Fergus Connolly in an interview last Sunday.

An All Star at full-forward in 2015, O’Shea came off the bench during the second half of last weekend’s win over Sligo despite carrying a slight groin injury.

Rochford explained he felt the Breaffy clubman was “keeping his focus on football” despite the personal criticism he had received over the last week.

“Aidan is, unfortunately, getting some spotlight at the moment. I think it’s really unfortunate that one of our top players is being picked out, but Aidan is a big guy, he’s keeping his focus on his football, and the squad aren’t being distracted.

“I suppose Aidan has been unfortunate in that his game time hasn’t been as much as he’d like it, or we’d like it,” added Rochford.

“So maybe we’re a little bit in the unknown there, but Aidan’s demeanour and his body language and his communication with us is fine at the moment.”

Meanwhile, Mayo expect everyone who featured against Sligo last weekend to be fit for the Galway clash.


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