Writing their own history

Stephen Rochford

Photo: Mayo News (Sportsfile/David Maher)

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.

Reports on last night’s media event, from which the above quotes were culled, are carried in the Mayo News, Irish Independent and Irish Examiner, as well as on the RTÉ website.

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.

52 thoughts on “Writing their own history

  1. Thankfully Aidan McLoughlin didn’t feel the need to go all Graham Norton again and have the management on his couch for interview.

    Stephen coming across very well. Think there is massive excitement and positivity about 2016. There was a shadow hanging around us all 2015 and despite that the players performed. We go again!

  2. I played against Stephen a fair bit at underage and spent a summer working with him in Ballina when he was first a Mayo minor in ’95. He was a bright guy back then and there was plenty of Deel Rover v Stephenite banter going back and forth, until we both got undone by a strong Lahardane team in that year’s minor championship. Whilst our paths never crossed again after that I kept an eye out for him at senior level and the one thing that always struck me was how clever he was as a player. What he lacked in pace he made up for in intelligence, he was an exceptional reader of the game.

    I’ve no doubt Stephen will bring plenty to the set up but what I see him adding to the group, in comparison with the 2 previous mgmt teams is this – communication skills, are a lack thereof, appeared to be a crucial undoing of Noel & Pat. Judging on what I have heard so far I’m hoping Stephen will tick that box comfortably. With regard to James Horan’s time, and this is only my perception, if I was to make one criticism, he often cut a somewhat introverted figure on the line, and perhaps this had an impact on crucial calls at certain points? Take for example, the relationship between Cian O’Neill and Eamon Fitzmaurice. It was clear that O’Neill was at the heart of the decision making process at all times. I don’t recall him carrying quite the same profile with Horan when he was with the Mayo setup? I could be wrong but that’s how it looked to me at least. Rochford is no introvert and he may be quicker to take action, and/or seek counsel, when it is required on the line. That’s where I hope to see two big boxes being ticked when it comes to this appointment, but only time will tell.

    The adoption of a clear set of blueprints in how we play and adapt to different situations, and the perennial need to discover 2 to 3 new players, are for me, the other two areas that need to be addressed. If Stephen and his team can satisfy those demands and bring the players with them we’ll be very very close. I’m excited by the appointment and I really can’t wait to see how it pans out, best of luck to the players and mgmt team for 2016, hope springs eternal.

  3. Wonder when will Rochy get to meet all the players? Johnny Tobin reported as saying that eight or so Mayo guys were away this weekend and not available for Connaught selection

  4. 1) No talk of All Irelands
    2)Twelve new faces.
    3)Compliments to those who ve gone before
    4) A competitiveness in all games!!

    That first game in Jan might indeed be an all ticket affair!!! A good start with no ball kicked yet!

  5. I hope Mchale park is bursting at the seams on 3rd January and indeed at our other home FBD and 3 home league games dish ear. Not to mention the probable visits of Galway and Roscommon in June and July when she should be packed to overflowing.

    Great to see that nobody has left the panel too. I detect a united camp.

  6. Can’t wait for January now, always look forward to seeing the new faces in the FBD. Always exciting when there are a couple of them from your own club.

  7. That statement from Rochford jumped out at me too WJ! Really getting excited again for the 2016 campaign. We really are spoilt being Mayo GAA supporters in the last decade, what a rollercoaster of a journey. Where to next………

  8. In addition to the current panel sounds like a list of new players have been drawn up and asked into the initial set up. Anyone have any details on who made it in?

  9. Two from Garrymore KMacLegend, WJ wouldn’t appreciate me naming them until it’s officially confirmed. But not too hard to guess them.

  10. It has always struck me as remarkable that, as far as I know, nobody has left the panel since 2011. Certainly no prominent player has since Ronan McGarrity and the Mortimers, and they were all of a previous generation. Considering all the disappointments, getting so close to the ultimate so many times, it is a remarkable record and massive credit to the players who are putting so much on the line. It is no wonder that Mayo are, apart from Dublin with its massive population, the only county to sell out its season ticket allocation.

  11. Its great to be reading plenty of good news for a change!

    @ catcol, as far as I know its next week-end that the first meeting will take place between Stephen Rochford and the players. With the interpros on this week-end and a number of players on holidays at the moment that must be the earliest time that they can all get to meet-up.

  12. Great appointment and i am confidenet this is the man to get us over the line…..Good luck to steve rochford his management team[ impressive] and the county panel for 2016, which is a massive year in our history as a nation as well….exciting times ahead, Up Contae Muigheo…………….

  13. A really positive sounding from the new manager. Good communication skill shown here, and I believe that JH had good communications skills also. I am delighted to hear that all the players are coming back, best news we have had in months. This negetive mood of the past couple of months needed a lift and this positive trajectory in early December is just what the doctor ordered

  14. Great to see him give recognition to the past and yet hope to move on.
    I sincerely hope he learns from the past in terms of defending while keeping the attacking breakout style.
    Not looking for much am I ?

  15. No disrespect to the man but I hope he doesn’t think that we can go man to man in the modern Inter County GAA game against teams at the top level. In fact no team across the board now really goes man to man anymore. They all employ some sort of doubled up defensive system be it sweeper or something else. Personally I would worry this is an approach that he wants to guide the team down but we shall see.

    Also its good to say we will be ultra competitive in all games but peaking at the correct time in the championship is surely more important than trying to be at the top level all the way through the year.

  16. Apologies, HopeSpringsEternal and Catcol – any comment with a link goes directly into moderation (due to anti-spam reasons) which is why those comments from you both with the link to that Indo piece didn’t go up before now. It’s an excellent article alright.

  17. Your grand WJ, no worries at all, your great to keep the site ticking along nicely the way that you do!

  18. Brilliant piece alright I wonder what the players will think of him. Be Interesting to hear their opions

  19. I feel that we should be optimistic, for the past 4 years we have been beaten by eventual winners on each occasion. In addition we have what I consider to be the best group of players Mayo have assembled in my lifetime (in my fifties). At least 6/7 of the current group would make the best Mayo Team of past 50 years, no question. I also believe that we have 4 of the best 10 players in Ireland currently, Keith Higgins, Cillian O’Connor , Aidan O’Shea and Lee Keegan with Keegan in my opinion being the best footballer in Ireland currently by a distance.

    Roll on 2016 and good luck to new Management Team

  20. Have the Cairde tickets sold out already? They don’t seem to be available on the season ticket website today. Some going by our support if they’ve all sold out in four days.

  21. alot of interesting stuff in that indo article. the bit about having an all ireland winner in the dressin room{mcantee} and that it gain the respect of the players interests me. 2016 is not win or bust for mayo. anyone that says that has no clue. twill take rochy time to bed in to county management. lets give him that time as alot of that panel have alot more football to play. few new additions. better game planning. few short years from now we could have sam home for christmas!

  22. Toughnup, at my age (64), every year is win or bust for Mayo. At the life cycle of this team and many of the players, I think the same applies.

    That’s not to say that I don’t take intense pleasure from each and every win. This year, I salivated over Galway again; took pleasure in our fifth in a row against Sligo (I could take 26 point wins for the next 10 years), and got my legal high on a master class against Donegal, and even savoured some of the Dublin stuff. And, I enjoyed hugely the league wins, and the Donegal draw, which included Barry’s towering performance.

  23. Dont believe we have that much time left if we are to be serious contenders.We are not team building which is often a euphemism for we are not good enough.I believe the players we have right now have the best chance of winning an All Ireland and if we are waiting for a few years …well I would have worries.Anyone who thinks Keith and others can go on and on …again I dont believe that is the case.
    I truly feel it must be this year .

  24. catcol ur young man yet lol and i take ur point. we all have our thoughts on it. i just believe rochford needs time. i enjoy all the football also. i was from celtic park in derry to pairc i rinn in cork last year supporting these guys. as were many others. we will get there some day and win an all ireland. were alot closer than most counties will ever get. were a few footballers short of the big one, thats how i see it

  25. Dublin are winners and have the mindset that they must win every competitive match. It doesn’t matter to them whether it’s a febuary evening in Castlebar or in the cauldron of Croke Park in mid to late September. Dublin don’t peak, they just need to beat every team that’s put in front of them. No excuses and no bullshit after talk. Winning makes the bullshit unnessary. Mayo have all they need well within themselves. Is Rochford the man to draw it out, only time will tell.

  26. I see nothing but positivity in the appointment of Stephen Rochford, a ball has not been kicked yet, still you can see by reading the interviews that he has a lot to offer and more importantly he is willing to take advice from his fellow selectors. He has stated that he does not want yes men around him. Previous managers who gave an awful lot to bring us to this stage did not utilize fully the talents of their backroom team, this to me was one of the main reasons that we did not win the big one.
    We need a few additional players , and I have no doubt that Stephen will trawl the County in an effort to find them.
    I hope the County Board will not hinder him in carrying out the job and leave the dressing room to the people that have been appointed.

  27. We need to win Sam in 2016,
    because if we don’t, it one less All Ireland we will win in the next few years.

  28. I didn’t think that it would be possible to see so much excitement and renewed fervour in Mayo GAA in December but Stephen Rochford’s appointment has brought that in spades- Mayo football, the gift that keeps on giving! Among his peers, It would seem that it was always a given that Stephen Rochford would manage Mayo and that it was just a question of when. From what I can see, he has been preparing for this for a very long time and it looks to me like he will very much hit the ground running. We as supporters are heartened by his freshness, ideas and enthusiasm and as long as he brings a professional approach, which I very much feel he will, I think the players can’t but be inspired by him. How this transfers on to the field of play, we will have to wait and see but so far I like what I see and I can’t flippin’ wait to get stuck in!! Best of luck to Stephen and the lads!!

  29. Things can only go well for Stephen and the lads.

    The last management was made up of two candidates who openly were unsure whether they wanted it, but were pushed together by politics to prevent two decent Mayo men who wanted it from having a shot.

    Stephen has the same determination and desire to do the job that Kevin had. If he is not obstructed by the Board we can have many fine years with him in charge.

    Positions I think we need options for are goalkeeper, corner back and full back, as well as a corner forward. These are the weak links that have failed at critical times. Fix some of these and we can have a shot at Sam, but it is not win or bust in 2016, and management need support and time

  30. Portlaoise must feel fairly sickened with that result today.. they were the better team all round for me but couldn’t convert their chances. They had a 14 yard free almost in front of the posts late on in the game to level things up but kicked it wide.. followed afterwards with two more shots well within range kicked wide. Me thinks better teams on the Mitchels Crossmaglen side of the draw.. winners of that should take the honours.. cracking good game though

  31. Hi All,
    The very best of luck to the new management team and I am sure you will still be a force to be reckoned with in 2016. To be fair I was on here twice before hoping that Mayo will really give the League a right good lash as we have really used it to great effect in the last few years. Best of luck and roll on January cheers….(Congrats to Ballyboden today, it was a good match)

    Kind Regards,
    Martin the Dub

  32. Just read the indo piece about SR’s approach to the game. It’s impressive that he should
    Align himself with such high achievers in national and international sport! Maybe this type of coach/ philosopher is what the county needs! To express these views just after being appointed takes guys especially with the weight of expectations on his shoulders! Despite what anyone says only Sam Maguire will satisfy the average Mayo supporter!!! Good luck to him and his team as they seek the Holy Grail !!

  33. Fair play Martin but you won’t get it as handy on your next trip down. This Mayo team are on the cusp of greatness and will dominate for years to come. I have no doubt about that, just mild frustration. Can’t wait for our next meet I believe that we will send out a strong statement and if I’m wrong I will be the first one on here.

  34. Nice one Joe, cheers and would you believe we are planning our trip on Feb 06th to Castlebar as it should be great craic……all the best

  35. Since JH took over and even before that we have always tried to introduce some new faces into the county team. I hope next year will be no exception. Some footballers mature at different stages in their footballing careers. A new management setup starting out on the road for the first time is a great opportunity for some of these guys to step into the ring. We may get one or two more from the minor team of a couple of years ago. It is an exciting time of the year as we drift ever closer to the start of the league.

  36. Good point from Ger Bohan, out on the left wing, under the stand from 35 yards , with a swirling breeze, he swung her over with yards to spare….on that point about the reluctance of the previous management and the boundless enthusiasm of this one. It has to make a difference, I’m sure Pat and Noel put everything into it but its the kind of job that unless you are tearing to do it, its just really hard to be successful at. Its not just about enthusiasm, and want of course, but they have to be the first ingredients in the pot before everything else. I notice it myself coaching underage teams, if theres a training session or a night when I might be a bit off and not bring the energy, its pervasive, gets through the team. You have to be up all the time or it brings the whole energy level down.

    Someone remarked to me a couple of weeks ago, that wasn’t it great to hear SR saying that he wanted the job every time he was asked. That normally its a bashful “ah sure we’ll see, nobody has asked me about it”, he was unambiguous in his ambitions from way back, and managed to stay respectful of the incumbents and the process while doing so.

    I will caution again, and hope that they more mature supporter can manage this, but we will have rough days in the FBD and the league ahead. We have to stay the course and focus on the bigger picture and not be jumping off cliffs if we’re not winning the FBD or top of the table after 3 games. But maybe that is insulting to my fellow Mayo men and women, we’re not soccer fans or Rossies!

    Finally, I thought it was great to see at least 7 or 8 of our main men over in NY at an NFL game together having the craic. They deserve a good break and it shows that these men are not just playing colleagues, they have also become great friends and that can only serve to deepen the bonds and have them all working together even more so.

  37. I agree East Cork Exile we will need patience on this one. It will take time for adjustments and understanding to take hold. I do not see this as a “hit the ground running” project irrespective of how much mileage is on the clock. Asking some supporters to be patient is a bit like pissing into the wind but that is how I see the first months at least

  38. James Horan’s column in today’s paper is worth a read. In it he writes about the highs and lows of supporting Mayo football, the need to give the new management a bit of time and space to get on with the job – and calls on us all to “eliminate the madness that can sometimes filter through the edge of Mayo set ups”.

    Basically a “Lookit, would ye ever just relax, and calm down a bit lads?” 😉

  39. Mayo U21s will play in a new competition (or maybe it’s one that’s brought back) next January called the north west cup.

    Fixtures apparently

    Fermanagh (A)
    Sligo (H)
    Donegal (A)

  40. James should have followed his own advice where the last management were concerned. He must think we all have very short memories.

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