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Rochford wants Mayo to be ‘ultra-competitive’



ON HOME GROUND New Mayo manager Stephen Rochford is pictured at MacHale Park, Castlebar on Thursday night. Pic: Sportsfile

Mike Finnerty

NEW Mayo manager Stephen Rochford says his team will be ‘looking to write their own history, game by game, performance by performance’ next year.
Rochford, who was appointed for a three-year term on Monday, held a media briefing at MacHale Park, Castlebar tonight (Thursday) and reiterated his intention to ‘embrace’ the pressure that goes with managing the Westerners.
Looking ahead to next season, the 37 year-old bank manager said that he wanted Mayo to be ‘ultra-competitive’ again in 2016.
He also confirmed that the entire 2015 squad had declared themselves available for selection again next year.
“We need to get back to a situation where we continue to be ultra-competitive across all games,” said the Crossmolina native.
“There’ll be a few new players, that’s just inevitable, but we haven’t sat down with any big goals yet, we’re [only] two days in the job.
“But we’ll be looking to be competitive and, every day we go out, [that] we can be honest and say we did ourselves, and the county proud. If we do that, I think we’ll be going in the right direction towards whatever out agreed goals will be.
“We can’t change 2014 or 2015, or back as far as 1951. . We’re looking at 2016 to write our own element of history, and that’s game by game, performance by performance.”
Rochford won plenty of admirers during his managerial stint with Corofin, winning three successive Galway county titles, one Connacht crown, and an All-Ireland last March.
However, he admits that his ultimate aim was always to manage the Mayo seniors.
“I’ve very honoured, its my own home county,” he explained.
“I understand it’s a big job but that’s a credit to the players and the previous management that they have made it that job that it is. I’m just looking forward to green grass, footballs and the end of December and early January.”
Mayo begin their National League campaign away to Cork on Sunday, January 31 next, followed by a home game against All-Ireland champions, Dublin, in Castlebar.
Rochford will be without former All Star Cillian O’Connor (injured) for the entire league campaign, Mickey Conroy is currently sidelined with an Achilles injury while Alan Dillon and Andy Moran have ‘slight knocks’.
Tom Cunniffe, Paddy Durcan, Barry Moran, Danny Kirby and Neil Douglas (club commitments with Castlebar Mitchels) will also be absent for at least those two opening fixtures.
As a result, the new manager confirmed that he plans to blood ’10 or 12 new guys’ during the FBD League next month with a view to using some of them for the early rounds of the National League.
“Our record will show that we find it difficult going to Cork, then we have the All-Ireland champions here in Castlebar.
“I wouldn’t be saying there’s no chance for [new] guys, it’s really what the next seven or eight weeks will show.
“We’re going to take it session by session but, believe you me, guys are going to be challenged over the next seven to eight weeks.”
Rochford is due to meet with the Mayo squad for the first time tomorrow week as the countdown begins to the start of the FBD Connacht League campaign against NUI, Galway on Sunday, January 3 in Castlebar.

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