Mayo's interest in the latter stages of the FBD League came to an end last Sunday when Roscommon ran out three point winners over Mayo in Hyde Park - winding up a run a hectic series of games for Mayo when they faced Leitrim, Galway, and Roscommon in a five day run. Speaking after the game on Sunday, Mayo manager Stephen Rochford felt the tight run of games did catch up with his side at the end: "Ahh…. well three games in five days will always catch up with you, especially at this time of year. But look, Roscommon were worthy winners and it’s disappointing that we didn’t stretch on in that final quarter and narrow the gap and to ask questions."
For the second game in a row Mayo went a long stretch without scoring, and that is something he will want to see worked out of their system as bigger tests lie ahead for Mayo in the coming weeks, but Rochford is not overly concerned by it in the early weeks of January. “Look, you’d love to be scoring consistently throughout the game, but that doesn’t always be the case no matter what the scenario is. It’s not something that would be of major concern at this stage of the year."
The short-snappy line of games also gave Rochford plenty scope to try out new faces with up to 20 guys getting their chance to stake a claim for the first time, or those coming back into the fold to show that they have what it takes. Speaking about what the new faces have brought, Rochford said: “They have certainly asked questions of the rest of the squad and that is part of what this year is about along with trying to get match fitness.
“We haven’t got much training done this last week, they are getting a bit more of an understanding about what we are doing, and that isn’t always conducive to the conditions that we are playing in at the moment with be breeze and rain on greasy surfaces or a mud bath. In that you have to be fair to them, but you can see there are a number of guys coming along."
With the National League starting on Sunday week (January 29 ) against Monaghan, Rochford knows that he will need to call on his more experienced players very quickly as there is little room for error when playing the top eight sides in the country. “The National League in division one is a very precarious position if you don’t have your right stock there, we’re already going to be tested with a number of guys who will be out for the earlier part, so that will give lads an opportunity who were around the squad in the past year or two and I’m sure lads who are new faces going into league too."
With this Sunday's game against Sligo bringing Mayo's FBD campaign to end and with them not having won a game in the competition so far, he was asked if he saw it as important to win on Sunday and have that under their belt before the league season got under way, or was a performance more important. He responded: "If you’re asking me, would I take a win next week over the following week the answer is no, but… we haven’t managed a competitive win so far this year, and with these three games these past five days we went looking for a win in each of them, and we were competitive in each of them, and that was I know something we were conscious about with all the fresh faces. In that sense it was good to see lads being quite competitive and that has been encouraging."
Mayo take on Sligo in Markievicz Park with throw-in at 2pm.