Ever since he was appointed as Mayo senior manager, January 3 2016 would have been circled in Stephen Rochford’s mind as the day that business really began for him as the new Mayo manager. When asked after his sides two point victory over NUIG how he felt this morning waking up, knowing that this day had arrived, he responded saying: “I wouldn’t say I was nervous. I was eagerly looking forward to the game and now that it’s here and done, it’s about next Tuesday, next Friday, and it’s about getting ourselves right for IT Sligo and improving on todays performance.”
As for the win against the students and the way his side dug it out after being pegged back level by NUIG as the game entered the home straight, Rochford said about it that: “You know, I wouldn’t say you’re setting targets on any competition. But you take every game on its own merits, you want to be competitive in every game and you want to win each game. From that aspect, whether it always materialises or not you will probably reflect and see if it went you’re way or not. In the main, we were good value for it. Obviously NUIG have done a good bit of work, they have been together three or four months, from their own league football, but I would have expected no less form the boys to react in the manner that they did and I think we created another goal chance or two there. Tom Parsons broke through there another day that could have rattle the top of the net, but it flicked on the outside of the post.”
Asked about his first impressions of his Mayo side in their first encounter in his tenure, it was a case of a lot to be done according to the double All Ireland club winner. “We still have plenty of work to do. I’m glad with the result I thought a lot of the lads tried very, very hard and things that we’d ask them to do in the main I think they tried to do.
“But obviously a bit of fatigue kicked in their at times, I think we switched off, certainly NUIG came out of the blocks a lot quicker. I thought we improved well, it came back to 0-5 to 0-3. We started well then again in the second half and went into a five point lead and then we fell asleep and you know at this stage of the year, we’ve been on the pitch maybe twice and individual mistakes and little things like that can come back to hurt you and we were probably, I think we had two or three more goal chances, but we weren’t sharp enough at this stage of the season to take them.”
As for the message he was gave to his players going out on to the field Rochford was keen to impress that it was still very early days and that time has to be given for everyone to get on the one wavelength. “You have to be cognisant that we’ve trained maybe two or three times. You know there were four maybe five debutants in that (team ), we looked to try and keep the game very simple, keep it positive from the point of view of looking to move the ball at a pace. It’s the third of January so, you have to be able to reflect on those aspects and in the main remain positive and tackle and work hard and use the session for their fitness levels.”
As for some more new faces getting a look in next week against IT Sligo, Rochford said that he thinks there will be some changes, but it will take until later in the week for them to be sorted out. “We’ll definitely have a couple of guys that weren’t used today that were in the squad, they will see game time next week. There are a couple of guys hopefully returning from injury that will hopefully bolster up the squad, (we ) probably won’t know until the middle of the week or so.”