Two days into the job, Stephen Rochford yesterday evening at MacHale Park held his first formal media briefing where, apart from letting the photographers get a few initial snaps of him in the Mayo kit (including the one above), he got to set out his stall on his aims as manager of the senior team.
The quote that’s doing the rounds most this morning is the history one, where he said that under his tutelage the team would be “looking to write their own history, game by game, performance by performance.” And it’s clear he doesn’t want to see the lads putting in any old performance either, stressing that:
We need to get back to a situation where we are ultra-competitive across all games.
I think, for starters, this should mean we’ll do a bit better to keep the ball kicked out to Dublin when they pitch up at MacHale Park next February compared to how we fared out against them at the same venue back in March of this year.
In terms of personnel, Stephen confirmed that all of the current panel will be on board and available for selection in 2016. Dismissing the old saw about miles on the clock, he pointed instead to the likes of Alan Brogan whose heartwarming second half performance off the bench for Dublin in this year’s All-Ireland final showed that age doesn’t necessarily need to be a barrier to excellence.
The absence of a number of established squad members, either through injury or, in the case of the Castlebar contingent, club commitments, will, however, mean that the FBD campaign next month is used for experimentation. Stephen said that “10 or 12” new faces will see game time in January and depending on how they get on could also get a cut at the real stuff once the League starts up.
By the sounds of it, the new manager came across well at last night’s event. I loved this rather humble but uplifting statement, one that carries a clear determination to give his all in the position:
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.
If first impressions count for anything (and I think they must) then it’s impossible not to be content with the initial vibes being created by the new man. I can’t but think that on this occasion we’ve chosen as well as we possibly could.
Time to get behind the lads again: go to the Mayo GAA website (here) and click ‘Play Now’ to contribute to the cause via the Mayo GAA Players Training and Welfare Fund Lotto.