The Mayo senior footballers are ready to go for their All Ireland final meeting with Dublin in a fortnight's time. At the county's press briefing ahead of the final on Wednesday night, manager Stephen Rochford fielded questions on the situation in the camp with Diarmuid O'Connor's fitness being the first question up, and the Crossmolina man replied saying: "Diarmuid is alive and well. We’ve trained three times since the Tipperary game and he’s been in all those sessions as has everyone else. We have 33 fit guys at this moment in time thank God."
As for this being the best shape the squad has been in all year injury wise, he added: "Going into the Tipperary game would have been the same but Diarmuid was just coming back from missing the Westmeath game. That has been a particular challenge all year. We got back training a little bit later than we would have liked and later than what other teams were doing, so we were probably playing bit of catch up. But thankfully this is the right time of year to have everyone available."
With the club championship games involving members of the senior panel being called off last weekend Rochford said he was greatful for the decision, but understands how tricky and difficult it is for the club players and management and said: "What it did allow us was a proper week of recovery. I think people may lose this but it wasn’t just the Tipperary game but the group had played five games in seven weeks and that does take its toll as well. So to be able to give us those proper days of recovery and be able then to line guys up again... those club championship games are round three games and a number of them are very important for clubs as regards whether they finish top or second place and that affects quarter-final draws and all those things.”
With Conor Lane also being named as the referee for the final, Rochford had no qualms about the decision to give the Cork man the whistle for the game. “I know he did the club final earlier this year so it’s been a great year for Conor. We had him for the game against Galway in the championship. He’s a young guy who has made great strides through the referees’ panel. He refereed the Mayo-Tyrone minor final [in 2013] so I don’t think you go from refereeing a minor final to a senior final in three years unless you are very consistent. Best of luck to him in two weeks time.”
As for Dublin and their win over Kerry last weekend, you cannot but be impressed by them, but it is all about Mayo doing their own job he said, before adding: "I was very very impressed as was everyone who watched it or was in attendance. But in many ways there wasn’t a lot that surprised you in it. A team that is undefeated in 26 or 27 games between league and championship in two seasons, that level of consistency was evident again in how they came back from the five point deficit and it was more evidence of the quality they have and the threats that they have in most corners of the field."