BACK Donie Buckley
IT may have taken a little longer than Stephen Rochford would have liked to get everything tied down and finalised, but the Mayo manager was able to confirm before Christmas that all three members of last year’s management team were going to return for 2018.
Rochford said in a recent radio interview that it ‘would have been challenging’ for him if at least three-quarters of the 2017 management team hadn’t committed for another twelve months.
However, Tony McEntee, Peter Burke and Donie Buckley all confirmed their intentions to stay on for the coming season at various stages last month after taking some time to consider their futures.
Rochford has also promoted his former Crossmolina team-mate, Joe Keane, to the management team for the year ahead.
Keane (who was a key man in Michael Solan’s All-Ireland winning Under-21 management team in 2016) was also part of Mayo’s backroom team last year as an opposition/video analyst.
It’s understood that he will now take on some coaching duties as well as being a team selector this season.
Speaking to The Mayo News about the fact that McEntee, Burke and Buckley had all come back on board, Rochford admitted that putting the management team back together again had been a delicate process.
“For them, again their hearts would be in the project, but it wouldn’t be right to say it was just a case of ‘a simple persuasion’ [to get them back].
“Each person has their own challenges.
“Obviously, Tony [McEntee] and Donie [Buckley] live outside the province and in that you need to be respectful, give them a bit of space to make sure that everybody that was going to be back was back, and mad for road.
“Thankfully, everybody’s been able to put their hand up in that sense.”
As for his own situation, and his decision to stay on, plus look for an additional two-year term, he had this to say:
“My heart would always have been looking to go again.
“But there were a number of other factors to be considered — management [team]; my family, and I got great support from my wife and the wider family; I’d got into a new role with AIB, they’d been very good to me in the last two years so could we continue that? Thankfully, they’ve rowed in too.
“So there were all those things, and also a wider discussion with the County Board around not just what 2018 should look like, but planning around the wider Mayo football agenda for the next few years, setting ourselves up with a sense of what 2020 should look like.
“Those discussions have been encouraging, and the challenge now is that we all follow through on it.”