Mayo Manager Stephen Rochford says, We've plenty to work on ahead of final
Mayo manager Stephen Rochford had a pause to consider which of their two goals was the most important in the final analysis of their semi-final win.
“I would probably say the second goal,” he eventually conceded. “It probably took the wind out of whatever sails Tipperary were coming at us with.
“They got a good amount of frees so while they weren’t creating open chances it is something that we need to look at.
“I would say that the way they had come at us at the end of the third quarter going into the fourth quarter, the second goal was just a little bit more important the way it finished.”
He added: “Jason’s (Doherty) was a fine goal in the first half and it probably just rubberstamped our authority in the game at that moment.
“Kevin McLoughlin also just had a goal chance, it just allowed us to reflect that dominance we had in the second quarter and that was important and crucially important the way that the second half played out.”
You cannot escape the nagging voice that says Mayo are at their best when things are a little helter-skelter, conditions that created their first goal. It’s not an assertion Rochford will shy away from.
“We have played some fabulous football in 15-18-20 minute blasts and we have created gaps in the scoreline,” he said.
“In times when we have maybe not been as good up front or not as efficient we still looked quite solid at the back and haven’t maybe been given the goal opportunities that had been given earlier in the year.
“Those parts are pleasing but we understand that we need to pull it more together for the next four weeks.”
For defeated manager Liam Kearns, the Kerryman who has raised expectations in Limerick, Laois and now Tipperary, he revealed what he said to his players as they gathered for a post-match huddle on the pitch.
“I said to them, ‘this is your stage, this is where you need to be, this is where you’ve got to come back to’. I told them I was really proud of them. And that’s the truth,” he affirmed.
“We made a promise to each other in the dressing room that we weren’t going to lie down. And they didn’t lie down. Not even to the very end when they went down to 14 men. I told them to come back here again, ‘Don’t let this be the end’.”
But it is an end for Tipp, at least for the year.
Mayo have bigger fish to fry. Keith Higgins, brought out for interview, has seen it all in his career. Another final, another opportunity, he feels.
“As Stephen said, the bunch of guys in that dressing-room are highly ambitious,” he said.
“They know what they want and there was never any kind of negative thoughts or anything. It was always about looking forward and getting back to where we think we should be,” he explained.
He also agreed with Andy Moran’s assertion that this is the biggest four weeks of their lives.
“Yeah, I think so because we know what it’s like to lose All-Ireland finals at this stage. We know what we’ve to do to try and move it on, so it’s a big four weeks to get that ready and we have a bit of time to work on that,” he said.
As for the game being a little, well, underwhelming?
He said: “You could call it underwhelming, but semi-finals are there for winning. At this stage we don’t care if we win the greatest game we’ve ever played or if we win the worst one we’ve ever played. We just have to win them, simple as that.”