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Faltering Mayo know what is needed to get back in groove, maintains Rochford

By Declan Bogue

Published 06/08/2016

To the point: Stephen Rochford admits Mayo have listened to recent criticism and are determined to prove the doubters wrong against Tyrone
To the point: Stephen Rochford admits Mayo have listened to recent criticism and are determined to prove the doubters wrong against Tyrone
Change: Andy Moran has altered his game after a long-term knee injury

Mayo manager Stephen Rochford has admitted that his men are aware of the media criticism of their stuttering form, as they prepare to face Tyrone in the All-Ireland quarter-finals this afternoon (throw-in 4pm).

The Westerners had been going for six consecutive Connacht titles when the wheels came off in spectacular style against Galway in the semi-final.

Since then, their recovery has been unconvincing. They required a dubious penalty to beat Fermanagh at Castlebar in a qualifier and looked rather more together and content in whipping Kildare, but last weekend's period when they allowed Westmeath back into the frame has raised a whole host of concerns as they prepare to take on the Red Hands, who are unbeaten in 2016.

"What anybody has to say about us, or an opinion in relation to what we need to do, we know those points ourselves," insisted Rochford, who at 37 is among the youngest managers on the inter-county circuit.

"We did some good things, we need to get some more consistency in that. But we can't control what people say. Supporters, press, that's all out of our control.

"This week has been all about rest, recovery and trying to put a bit more shape on our game to face Tyrone.

"As somebody told me, at 7.55pm on match day we were in the last eight… To be honest, that was the name of the mission throughout the qualifiers. We have a momentous challenge ahead of us in Tyrone.

"But we will embrace it, we will turn up and give it a hell of a shot."

Mayo had to do a bit of cramming this week in getting ready for Tyrone, but coming up against a more defensive-minded system is not something foreign to them.

They have already struggled against Fermanagh and their sweeper, and made mention of the fact that Westmeath played a double-sweeper at times last weekend - something that will be replicated this afternoon with Colm Cavanagh and Justin McMahon of Tyrone.

In getting ready for the test, Rochford explained: "I think you try and strike the balance between yourselves, the level of improvement you want.

"We need to review last week's second-half in relation to what we didn't do well.

"A fortnight ago, we were talking about the problem being midfield. We were a lot better at that against Westmeath. I don't think there was anything majorly systematic that was the problem.

"There is a lot of experience, a lot of good footballers in Mayo. The challenge was put in front of them, it will be put in front of them again this week and if we still want to be in the championship, we have to react."

Meanwhile, veteran attacker Andy Moran, the captain who missed out on the 2012 final after he ruptured his cruciate ligament in the semi-final win over Dublin, said: "Tyrone are a good team, but we will look forward to it."

He admits he has had to tailor his style of play since that spell on the sidelines, owing to his injury history.

"I suppose I had to change my game a wee bit, I couldn't win the ball the way I could before the knee injury," he said.

"But I felt I was back last year, even in the Galway game I went down on my knee and lost a few weeks."

On their unusual path through the qualifiers to this stage, he added: "We have never had a run before, it's a completely different experience for us. We are still there and we are a good team."

Belfast Telegraph

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