Stephen’s sounding positive

Photo: RTÉ

Stephen Rochford was on Newstalk’s Off the Ball show last night. In a wide-ranging chat with Joe Molloy and Kevin Kilbane,  Stephen looks back on the 2017 season and casts his mind ahead to the coming year.

In his usual matter-of-fact way, Stephen deals with the aftermath of this year’s final and gives his view on the outrageously over the top criticism aimed at him this summer by the frothier sections of the media. He also clarifies his plans for the senior panel next April, scotching in the process the notion that a warm weather training camp was ever in the diary for then.

Stephen provides some insights into the logistical issues he faces in dealing with a geographically split panel, several of whom are based in Dublin, as well as giving his views on the ongoing club v. county tug-of-war within the GAA. In this context, he also touches on Donie Vaughan’s recent decision to transfer to Castlebar. GPS-gate even gets a mention too.

It’s an interesting interview, one in which Stephen sounds relaxed and upbeat ahead of the new year of football that’s now just around the corner. It’s well worth a listen and you can do so here:

39 thoughts on “Stephen’s sounding positive

  1. I was going to wait till just before the new year to give my prediction for next year but being off with a bad flu the past few days I have alot of time on my hands.
    I hate to admit it but i’m not as positive as Stephen for next year. The Dubs are 10/11 on in Paddy power outright betting followed by Kerry and then Mayo they have been clear favourites for the past 3 years.
    I have a few very real reasons for my concern for the year ahead.
    Mayo did’nt finish as strong in this years final as the finals of 2016.
    Mayo subs did’nt work in the 2016 and particularly the 2017 final.
    There are 3 / 4 top quality players needed, 1 in midfield and 2 forwards.
    Cillian’s free taking has been on a downward spiral this past 2 years, surely Jason Doherty should be taking more.
    There is no out and out left footed free taker on the Mayo team.
    Hard to see Andy having such an influence next year, carried us in many games this year.
    For the first time at an All Ireland, I was content right on the final whistle of this years final, content that I saw Mayo give it their all, content that some big names played well in the final for the first time, and maybe content in that Mayo just can’t win finals, sure they are cursed.
    It is very difficult for those guys to go through all the hard slog of training and having been beaten in 4 finals since 2012, surely this in in their heads, this is why new players are needed, to keep the fire going in the older guys.

  2. Excellent interview. Delighted to hear Stephen so positive . Some very interesting points made about the fixture congestion and great to hear him clarify the position about the training camp story.

    Willie Joe can I also take this chance to wish you and yours a very Merry Christmas and Happy New Year and thanks again for all your hard work during the year keeping this blog going and providing a wonderful forum for us to share our views and love of Mayo in a civilised manner with respect for all. Here’s to a wonderful 2018

  3. Very interesting interview . Came across very well . Mentioned the rubbish printed after the 1st Kerry match ..Non committal on Donie really as I’d say he is probably getting the bad vibes from his Ballinrobe base plus the fact he was a serious club player in his day.. Listening to him , I’m now really looking forward to 2018 .Whether we are good enough or nor believe SR will leave no stone unturned

  4. Every manager is going to be positive this time of the year. What do people expect Stephen to say – we are too old, on the road too long, havent got the ability to close out big matches.
    I have to agree with Mayo 88 above. We had so many players playing very well in the final this year – and still couldn’t win in. I can’t see what more these players can do in 2018 to get us over the line. We really need 4-5 players to step up to the plate from the FBD and league. If you look at our allstars this year – I reckon 5 out of the 6 will be 32 or older in 2018. The majority of IC players do not last like Andy. Remember Andy has his own gym and can work out everyday when he gets a chance.
    Will still back the team all the way. I think we will be looking back in ten years talking about the drama and excitement we had in 2017. We will never have a year like it again.

  5. We are resilient if nothing else in Mayo. The fight goes on and the believe that some day we finally land the big one is what keeps many of us going.

    Will that happen in 2018? Well nobody knows but every year the want and determination seems to grow. The players and fans feed of each other.

    As long as we give it our all what more can we ask?

  6. I feel the same – our lads played out of their skins in a never-to-be-repeated AI final performance and still were unable to win it in the end. Heart breaking for them. Wishing Stephen and the players all the best for 2018. Will keep on following them to the ends of the earth no matter how the seasons ahead unfold.

  7. Its hard to see how we can win an all Ireland now with this panel. As expressed by two posters above , we gave it everything this year, when Keegan scored that goal I really thought our time had come . Its just not meant to be , the saddest story of irish sport , its fooking tragic .

    Nestor cup should be our aim and take it from there , maybe the dubs will all get a summer flu and we will smash and grab kerry style.

    Either way ill join the thousands like me and enjoy another year of following the greatest Mayo team since 51 (probably better but without sam)

  8. I think if anything our panel gets even stronger next year. The best crop of young talent since the 2006 u21s.

  9. Why do we not need defenders? We’ve been scoring big scoring totals in finals but conceding big totals. But we’re always lamenting our lack of forwards to complement our defense.
    No need for letters to Santa. There’s plenty talent available.

  10. I have every confidence in the Management and the squad to deliver In 2018,we can improve enough to do it,if Hanley returns to the squad and Keane coming back from injury,etc I think we have a great chance,but we have to win Connaught,that is a must,hon Mayo,btw any news on Hanley’s return,??.

  11. I thought that was a very impressive interview. How refreshing to hear (particularly in the modern era of media-trained, screened questioning and cliche ridden responses from robotic, emotionless players and managers) a high profile manager give direct, straight answers and actually offer his opinion on footballing matters. Too often supporters are disrespected by inter county managers with their bland, one answer fits all, predictable replies to questions. Yes, that’s referenced to you Jim Gavin!
    A couple of things stood out for me from the interview.
    1. Rochford firmly believes that we can perform better than we did in the All Ireland final. The performance in the final was as good as I have ever seen and I left the game thinking we could do no more to win it. Had Donie held the head we would have had a huge advantage in the last 15 mins but given Dublin’s efficiency of 67% successful shooting and their stronger panel, there was not much more we could do. Rochford obviously feels different and believes there is more to come from this group of players.
    2. While there are some younger players in development squads and training with the senior panel, it may still be some time before we see them compete for places on the senior starting 15 due to the “physical toll on the body” that comes with playing senior inter county football for Mayo. Still, having asked for an additional 2 years to his term he believes that the talent is there to bring through.
    3. Having McEntee and Buckley agreeing to commit to another three years reinforces the fact that they believe there is more to come and that the dream is far from dead.
    Impressive and positive stuff all round.

  12. We have proved to be up there with the best of them over the years just need to work on finishing games out strongly.
    Most games in 2017 were to close for comfort and got caught in the final.
    I think there is plenty of new players to shine this year and have a seasoned management to get the best out of everyone young and old.
    Also think the super 8s will suit us.
    Happy christmas all.

  13. I will listen to the interview over the weekend but I don’t agree with the idea that Mayo will not win Sam anytime soon. They played well in the final and had chances to win but didn’t.
    A good rest for the league for the established lads and let the rest at it to the point of not worrying about this league apart from perhaps giving the jackeens something to think about. They’re the ones with something to lose after all.

  14. Im going to remain negative if only to hear the replies (devils advocate) .

    Dublin are one of the best sides of all time, three in a row and getting stronger, Dublin had a cormac costello in 16 to win the game (did he even play much this year?) , con o callaghan is looking like a match winner for 18, they have our number every time since 2012, our bucks have thrown everything at them in 17 and still we didnt win, not even a draw this time. How can you think logically we can improve and them to stay as they are. Its the opposite , they are fooking rampant , enough quality for two sides to win all Irelands, we have to be hitting the downward by age profile alone soon.

    Its Dublins to lose ,no sane person would back their hard earned against them .

  15. Ah lads will ye stop talking about Hanley coming back it’s not going to happen. I disagree with you Mayo88 I believe we are going to win the all Ireland in the next two years provided we go for broke in the national league and blood a few new players and give them game time.

  16. I genuinely think we would have won if Donie had kept his head. We were equally as good as them on the day, and for either team a one man advantage would have made all the difference.
    But such is sport. People taking about Hanley coming back is bananas stuff…. Kennelly done it cause he knew he had a nailed on All Ireland, Tyrone were on the downward path at that stage and there was nobody else challenging them. Hanley is not coming back…. and anybody that thinks otherwise is fooling themselves.
    Anyway, happy Christmas and a great 2018 to everybody on this site.

  17. Yeah Dublin clear favourites again and the Super 8’s will actually suit them even better.

    That said beating Kerry was a big moment this year and if we can keep up a similar level we do look the second best team in the country, so who knows maybe the Dubs will slip up somewhere – however unlikely, and we should be on hand to take advantage unlike 2014 which I think will probably go down as the biggest rued chance when this era is over.

    There was a very fine line last year though in being a kick of a ball from losing to Derry, Roscommon, Cork and Kerry (I’m a big Rochford fan but hindsight is wonderful, there was definite grounds for criticism when we should have lost to Division 2 fodder). We naturally need to be focused right from the off in 2018

    Missing out on the Super 8’s could be the beginning of the end really, as it would only hugely bring on the 8 teams who do make it

  18. Not overly sure about winning if Donie stayed on myself, if we’re really brutally honest it was 3 criminal sitters in the first half that cost us dearly, chances that Dublin (and indeed even Kerry) would never miss. It’s small margins at the end of the day and it’d be enough to win the All Ireland most years but this Dubs team is ruthless

  19. I’ll bite Sean 🙂
    Age profile I think we’re better placed.
    Paul Flynn, MDMA, Kevin McManamon, Eoin OGara, Cian OSullivan, Diarmuid Connolly, Philly McMahon, Bernard Brogan. All have been vital players starting or bench. The youngest is McMahon at turning 31 late next year. That group was Dublins physicality except for James Mccarthy and John Small. Brian Howard is coming in and Con OCallaghan is in.
    Our equivalents are Keith, Andy and Boyler.
    Three vital over 30s. For 2018/19 I think they have the bigger age profile issue.
    The kickout rule change next year suits us as we were stronger than them last year on long kickouts.
    I believe thirdly from the age of Diarmuid/Conir Loftus u23 to Lee/Kevin Mc/Jason u29 next year we have the best squad in those prime athletic years while having plenty championship experience.

  20. I left out one more outfield player. Paddy Andrews is getting on next year.
    On our side Ger Caff and SOS getting on but they haven’t in recent years been vital players like the three aforementioned or those on the Dublin list.

  21. To add to that, JP, that Dublin team are on the road (i.e. playing in August and September) longer than we are. We made the breakthrough in 2011 (but still weren’t near Kerry’s level), which was when Dublin won the first of their recent All-Irelands. Cluxton, Fitzsimons, O’Sullivan, McCarthy, MacAuley, Flynn, Connolly, Brogan, McMahon, McManamon and O’Gara all played that day. The previous year they failed narrowly to reach the final, losing by a point to Cork and Cluxton, Fitzsimons, McMahon, O’Sullivan, MacAuley, O’Gara, Brogan and Flynn played then.

  22. I forgot Fitzsimmons is getting to 30 next year, program is in the drawer but I like to try and do it from memory 🙂

  23. I remember seeing these same negative messages this time last year.I find it hard seeing us winning it next year crap,old mayo mentality.As in Kerry they believe they can win it every year.Why do people find it so hard we are closer now then we have ever been, even compared to the Horan era.The hunger of Dublin has to be running very low now and the pressure of doing 4 in a row makes it harder again.Down in Kerry they would feel its a great year to take them out, cant see anyone else coming close unless Tyrone change their game to a more attacking style.I think this year coming is our best chance yet.I kno the likes of boyler ,chris barrett and co are just itching to get back to it.

  24. Thankfully Mr Keegan, OSheas,Moran etc don’t share the same view as some of the posters here. So yes, 4 finals in 6 years, why not 5 in 7 and finally win 1? No reason. Its just a matter of keeping the gun on it and not listening to the doubters.

  25. Time to get back into the habit of winning Connacht. We’ve left it after us the last 2 years. Then take it from there.

    I still think if Cillians effort in the 71st minute to take the lead, had gone in off the post instead of coming back into play, we might well have got over the line.

    I think we were that close.

  26. Jaysus – where’s all the negativity coming from? Have ye all been out on the piss with Breheny and lapping up the anti-Mayo bile?

    I tend to be of the glass half empty mentality, but I’ve rarely felt as bullish facing into a year.

    This year, we demolished Kerry, physically, and tactically, while playing better football. We faced into a final as complete no hopers – up against the greatest team of all time, lucky to be beaten by less than 9 points, over the hill, playing on muscle memory etc. Dublin ARE one of the greatest teams of all time, yet we were better than them on the day. We played better football, matched them physically and for the first time in my memory really played like an All Ireland winning team on final day. Maybe ’96 came close.

    So why didn’t we win?

    As some have said, small margins, very small margins. Donie getting sent off? Possibly, but it was still there for us. Bench? Our bench got better as the year developed. Andy getting injured (something that’s only been retrospectively discovered)? That WAS a loss – another 10/15 minutes on the field was vital. However, I think the real difference was Cillian’s return versus Rock’s. It’s that small.

    We have to up that percentage and we have to develop a free taker who can hit them from 55 to 50 yards – consistently. Jason Doc can be that person. Freezer, who as I understand it (from posts here) is coming back to the panel, can do it. Liam Irwin is another; I know his fitness is in question, but dead ball kicking is very important. Dean Rock for me has been the real reason why Dublin have won tight games. He has kept them in it when they have struggled and this gives teams a great chance. Cillian has been doing it too but not quite as consistently..

  27. I don’t expect the Mayo championship starting team in the business end to change much in 2018 from this year. That will mean the average age will be 29 higher than any other team and combined championship appearances between them would be over 600 again higher than any other team.

    Dublin have older players with mileage on the clock also but apart from cluxton they don’t rely on their aged 30 plus players as much asMayo do. For example Flynn,Connolly,Brogan,MacAuley all subs now while McManamon was always better as impact sub.

    John O’Mahony has described Michael Meehan as a “once in a lifetime” player following the Galway marksman’s retirement. In Higgins,A Moran,C Boyle etc Mayo have a number of “once in a lifetime” players with big boots to fill once they retire.

  28. Remember sending a text to a friend after the Derry game “Still in it to win it” ..More ironic than anything as I didnt for a second think we would end up where we did in September..Sent the same text after every game ..The Kerry one was particularly sweet..We have no idea where 2018 will bring us..But can we please get a little more bullish about our chances..A little bit of optimism is never a bad thing..

  29. Mayomagic will u stop with age bullshit.andy moran was poty this year and david clarke has won 2 all stars in a row.the only improvement needed is on the bench and taking scores when on top like our 1st half.

  30. We may not have lots of years to look forward to with ambitions of success but I am also very optimistic about our changes in 2018 for a few reasons;
    (1) We are very much aware of the treachery of the back door next year – end up there and along with its draining nature, the prize at the end is to enter another league. For that reason all roads lead to May 13th and that is great to hear from Rochford – that moves us on from dwelling on past glory days, chasing the holy grail or mileage on the clock and readies us for the bread and butter of our own province and in particular the need to reach some level of peak performance.
    (2) In my opinion we are mentally stronger and mentally fitter going into 2018 than any other team in Ireland including the all-ireland winners. That was there to be seen on the really big days last year but in particular moving into next year I think our numbers with such mentally fortitude will expand within the entire squad.
    (3) Finally we are really well positioned to rejuvenate and refresh the team – with the addition of a few new faces to the panel together with lads within the squad who are decent solid footballers who just need to run the hard yards in the league, we will have a team primed for top flight action again come championship 2018.

    Happy Christmas to all who partake in this site and most especially to you and all your family Wille Joe.

  31. Prediction for 2018:

    Mayo to win Sam after 67 years, beating Dublin by 8 pts in Final, Charlie Redmond at last to acknowledge that at least 2/3 Mayo players might make Dublin 15, AOS to have stormer in Final, LK to score in 3rd consecutive Final and win POTY for 2nd time, Book will be written and we will all live ‘happy ever after’.

  32. I am always optimistic,even when we had poor teams and management,now we have excellent players and the best management in my life time,of course we will win next year up Mayo

  33. Thank you Paddy in Dublin. I’ll second your prediction. It really feels like Christmas and one thing about Christmas is that all things are possible. Mayo have everything we need to win it in 2018. Let’s believe and never stop believing. Maigheo go deo Happy Christmas to you Willie Joe and to all who visit this site

  34. Chris Kelly the age thing is not bullshit. The older players are key for Mayo you have just provided proof there with Andy Moran winning POTY and Clarke winning another All Star. The reality is many of which are once in a life time players and the shelf life they have left with Mayo seniors is not long and they will leave big voids to fill.

  35. W.j happy christmas to you and everyone belonging to you.
    And happy christmas to all the players management and supporters.
    Bye god we will be back next year
    Thanks to all the mayo team.
    I wish i could say we will win next year
    But one things for certain we will be there and there abouts.

  36. I’d always be glass half full. On the plus side Mayo are so battle hardened they should be able to win games that other teams will lose. Although some players getting on a bit most will still probably be able to perform (and if not some will make great super subs). Another plus if correct is rumoured return of Freezer. Chris Barrett hasn’t even peaked due to previous seasons hampered by injury. Missed some of league this year.
    On minus side we took 16 out of 29 compared to Dublin 17 out of 26 so the posters looking for couple more forwards are correct. SOS being written off a bit soon but IMO if Diarmaid clears out the hamstring injury that hampered him this year he could be the midfielder people speak about. Definitely not as powerful as SOS but James Mccarthy showed the value of football intelligence this year.
    The second minus is Cillian’s free percentage dropping the last 2 seasons and Rock doing what Cillian used to do. For me either Freezer or Doherty should be given the chance even if it means dropping Cillian. Let him fight for his place. As I see it he needs to play with more abandon. Sport is a field of dreams for anyone who gets the chance.

  37. Regarding Dubs injury to either of two players Cluxton and Rock could have huge impact and although Con OC will be a star ala Diarmaid Connolly, a lot also depends on Jack Mc. If he returns to 100% then they are top, if not they are equal to Mayo but not better provided none of our older players slide without star replacements.
    As for the rest, Kerry will improve their panel greatly over next 3 or 4 seasons and Galway could be the other one to worry about. Kildare also have talent and Cork not a million miles off. Tyrone despite looking great early summer 17 need a new template which could take 2 years. Donegal young guns flopped in the pressure zone but have one summer of experience now.
    Key for Mayo, make the Super 8. Then our Croker experience could get us through security tight games, even some where opponents deserve something but don’t get.

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