Rochford says Dubs is still a team to beat
FLASHBACKThen Mayo manager Stephen Rochford speaks to Aidan O’Shea during the 2017 All-Ireland SFC campaign.Image: sports file
Former Mayo manager Stephen Rochford believes the Connacht champions “are in a better position to beat Dublin now than they did in the All-Ireland final last year” – but he also warns that rumors of Dublin’s downfall are strong are exaggerated.
In an exclusive interview with Billy Joe Padden on this week’s Mayo News Football Podcast ahead of the All-Ireland SFC semi-finals, Rochford looks back on the delicious game that will be played at Croke Park on Saturday, August 14th.
On the subject of Dublin’s Leinster final win against Kildare on Sunday and some criticism of their recent form, Rochford said: “They still scored 20 points and conceded ten goals.
“When we look at these things sometimes we look at what Dublin did last year or 2018 or 2015. ‘Oh, they blew the teams’.
“But these are just historical questions now.
“The here and now is important for Dublin. And what’s important for any team in a knockout championship is that they win this bloody game.
“It doesn’t matter whether you win with five or 25 points.
“Unlike Meath, everyone was excited that day that they might be on the ropes. But were they ever really on the ropes? People try to see a ray of light and hope that someone will bring them down.
“But would you bet the August mortgage payment on Dublin not making it to the All-Ireland finals?”
Rochford, who has coached Donegal for the past three seasons, also noted that “Dublin will dictate a game completely if they go five points”.
He also believes Mayo has to “mix up” her style of play in order to ask questions to six-in-a-row winners from across Ireland.
“Mayo needs to be able to mix this game up, play it into space when it opens up in front of them, along with playing on their forefoot with their running game.
“And being able to mix that up also means that Dublin cannot read, that it will just be a plan, and that is when teams are most dangerous when you cannot read what is coming.”
Overall, the former Mayo boss is giving his former protégés a good chance of disrupting Saturday week chances and says they will definitely feel like they can “make a crack” at the dubs.
“This is the first real game Mayo has had since the All-Ireland final last year,” he said.
“You see three All Stars in David Clarke, Chris Barrett and Cillian who are not on the team now, and you say, ‘We’ve never had a better chance’ over the past few seasons.
“And that doesn’t really make sense. But the speed at which Mayo plays, the one with asterisks [against] Division 2 and Division 4 teams, means they are confident.
“And I think there’s an element of them that Dublin looks at and says, ‘Damn it, we can attack them’. And while they think that, and we did believe it in my time there, and I have no doubt that they have felt the same way over the past couple of seasons, there is going to be real confidence there.
“But like never before in a Mayo Dublin game, the third quarter is the championship quarter. “Will we have the bank to get in?”
All-Ireland SFC semi-finals
Dublin versus Mayo
Saturday August 14th
Croke Park at 6 p.m.