It was a must win game for Mayo and Stephen Rochford was a contented figure not long after the final whistle was blown in Hyde Park on Sunday afternoon. Rochford’s Mayo side had just seen off Roscommon with an impressive display and he was also able to welcome back to action one very key man whose form will be a big factor in Mayo’s chances of success this summer.
Asked was there a sense of euphoria after the full time whistle he said, “Sometimes people take an opinion that the end result is everything and it is a results game. But we have gone in to three games this year and we have got no points out of it being Dublin, Kerry and Donegal. We knew that if we kept knocking on the door with a bit of luck we were going to be the right side of one of those performances. That’s what happened. I wouldn’t read too much into it from the point of view of it being euphoric in relation to the win: we needed to win the two points and thankfully that’s the what we did.”
Mayo’s shooting in the first half left a lot to be desired as they left a lot of points behind them thanks to some wayward shooting, Rochford was asked was he disappointed that his side only went in leading by two at the break. “Well, I was disappointed on the basis that I’d liked it to have been much more as always is the case. There was no sense of panic, I thought we were doing a lot of good things, maybe we had fallen off a point or two with their kick-out and allowed them to build into the game. Thankfully we were able to address that at half-time. The boys addressed that on the pitch which is the more important thing, and we were in a position then to dictate the terms of the game for long parts.” He also said that he was “Disappointed that we conceded the goal going into the final quarter as that put a bit of pressure on. But you saw the resilience of the group as well. We are just delighted to get the two points.”
Both Cillian O’Connor and Alan Dillon made their return to Mayo colours from the bench and it was good to have the Ballintubber duo back on board according to the Mayo manager. “It was great to see. They came in and contributed very well but you know the 21 guys contributed and that i’d say, the wider panel of 30 plus really contributed in the last two weeks, there was a great edge in out training and we’ll need that again this week.”
He was also pleased with the impact that some of the younger players in the team made on the day saying, “It’s satisfying, a number of them, Conor O’Shea and Evan (Regan ) being the two guys that have less experience, have been really working hard in training and what we have been saying is there harder you work the luckier you get. Evan had one of those days: he got his goal, he got his free and a nice point at the start of the game it’s about building that into a consistent level. Can we do that again next Sunday? That will be the immediate question for him.
Mayo did come out of the game with a couple of injury worries ahead of next Sunday’s game and with the u21s in action in the Connacht final on Saturday evening, it could see Mayo a bit stretched next Sunday in some areas. Speaking about Ger Cafferekey when it was put to him it looked like a hamstring injury he said, “Yeah, maybe up into his groin, hamstring into his groin. But we’ll asses that. The pitch was difficult, certainly when the water came of it the ground was very, very soft underfoot and there is a lot of tired bodies in there. That was a physical, physical game and we have just got to mind them this week.” As for Donal Vaughan he only had a limited number of minutes he could play on Sunday Rochford explained saying, “Coming into the game he had a calf injury so we had anticipated that there was 30 to 40 minutes in him. The feeling was to get him out at the moment in time and give Patrick a little bit of direction in the second half.”