At the second time of asking, Mayo got their 2018 season under way on Wednesday night against Leitrim in the FBD League - having to wait an extra three days after their game against Galway was called off shortly after it was due to throw-in on Sunday due to a frozen pitch.
In a team featuring more than half a dozen debutants at this level Rochford was happy with what he saw despite Mayo having victory snatched away thanks to an injury time Brendan Gallagher goal. “Look, any competitive game at this level is a worthwhile exercise, we’d be disappointed that we didn’t close out the game having come back from three points down and kicking six points on the turn. We got a good impact from the bench with that and that was a positive," he told the Mayo Advertiser after the game. “You need to take the bigger picture with this - but we are disappointed that we didn’t close out the game especially with there only being 20 seconds left in injury time. "
Mayo were in control of the game early on, on the scoreboard leading by by 0-5 to 0-1 after 18 minutes with new boys Ross Egan, Fionn McDonagh, and Ciaran Treacy all getting early points, but the game was much closer than the scoreboard reflected Rochford told us. "There are guys lacking a bit of experience and were maybe taking a little bit more heed of the scoreboard than what was going on the field. Leitrim were well in the game, they kicked about five or six wides in that period. Really you know we were four or five points up on the scoreboard but it was a tighter game than that. But in the second half, I thought we did defensively very well for long stretches of that game and we conceded just two points in the second half until the last second goal - there is stuff to be happy about, but we’ll know an awful lot more by this night next week."
With last year's Mayo squad all arriving back into Ireland in the middle of the week after their team holiday Rochford will be looking to get some game time into some of their legs along with a number of new faces in the two games they have from this evening (Friday, January 12 ) to Sunday against Galway and Roscommon. We asked him if it would be some 20 other players he would be looking at over the weekend, he told us: "It might not be 20, but it will probably not be that far off with guys returning from Malaysia, a number of them, it will be necessary for them to play, definitely come Sunday, but we’ll see what the story is with bodies come Friday morning for Friday evening."
As for who impressed him most from the new faces who played on Wednesday night - it was not about individual performances, it was about working as part of the team he told us, “I won’t be singling out anybody, that’s not the cause for these games, it’s about how guys are performing in a team and there was some parts of that were pleasing but we’ll have to see that at a more consistent level."