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Rochford says Dubs still team to beat


FLASHBACK Then Mayo manager Stephen Rochford speaks with Aidan O’Shea during the 2017 All-Ireland SFC campaign. Pic: Sportsfile

Mike Finnerty

FORMER Mayo manager Stephen Rochford believes that the Connacht champions ‘are in a better position to take Dublin down now than they were in the All-Ireland Final last year’ — but he also warns that rumours of Dublin’s demise have been greatly exagerrated.
Speaking in an exclusive interview with Billy Joe Padden on this week’s Mayo News Football Podcast ahead of the All-Ireland SFC semi-final, Rochford looks ahead to the mouth-watering game which will be played on Saturday, August 14, at Croke Park.
On the subject of Dublin’s Leinster Final win over Kildare on Sunday, and some criticism of their recent form, Rochford said: ‘They still hit 20 scores, and they conceded ten scores.
“When we look at these things sometimes, we look at what Dublin did last year or in 2018 or 2015. ‘Oh they were blowing teams away’.
“But they’re only history questions now.
“What’s important to Dublin is the here and now. And what’s important to any team in a knock-out championship is that they win that bloody game.
“It doesn’t really matter whether you win it by five points or 25 points.
“Against Meath, everybody was getting excited that day that they might be on the ropes. But were they ever really on the ropes? People are trying to see a ray of light, and hope, that somebody is going to take them down.
“But would you put August’s mortgage payment on Dublin not being in the All-Ireland Final?”
Rochford, who has been coaching Donegal for the last three seasons, also pointed out that ‘Dublin completely dictate a game when they go five points up’.
He also feels that Mayo will need to ‘mix up’ how they play in order to ask questions of the six-in-a-row All-Ireland winners.
“Mayo need to be able to mix that game of being able to play it into space when it opens up in front of them, along with playing on the front foot with their running game.
“And being able to mix that up also means that Dublin can’t read that it’s only going to be only one plan, and that’s when teams are at their most dangerous, when you can’t read what’s coming.”
Overall, the former Mayo boss gives his former charges a good chance of upsetting the odds on Saturday week and says they will definitely feel they can ‘have a crack’ at the Dubs.
“This is the first real game that Mayo have had since the All-Ireland Final last year,” he said.
“You’re looking at three All Stars in David Clarke, Chris Barrett and Cillian not being in the team now, and you’re saying, ‘We’ve never had a better chance’ in the last few seasons.
“And that doesn’t really make sense. But the pace that Mayo are playing at, asterisk that with [against] Division 2 and Division 4 teams, means there’s a confidence in them.
“And I do think there’s an element of them looking at Dublin and saying, ‘Bloody hell, we can have a crack at them’. And while they think that, and we believed it in my time there, and I’ve no doubt they’ve felt the same way in the last few seasons, there’ll be a real confidence there.
“But like never before in a Mayo-Dublin game, the third quarter is the championship quarter. “Will we have the bench to come in?”

All-Ireland SFC Semi-final
Dublin v Mayo

Saturday, August 14
Croke Park at 6pm
Referee: TBC

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