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Rochford handles defeat with class and dignity

 

By Declan Bogue

Stephen Rochford comes into the room and, genuinely, you feel like hugging the man.

And he doesn't look for excuses either. Tossed a life raft here, he congratulated the victors and wished them well with their spoils.

"You lose consecutive All-Ireland finals by a point and you just tip your cap to Dublin. Today is about them. In fairness: a phenomenal achievement to win three in a row. Congratulations to Jim and Stephen but it just wasn't to be," he began.

"We rapped the post with a free in injury time and Dean Rock, not to take away from the enormity of the kick, had one from a slightly easier margin and he nails it. Sport can be cruel sometimes."

While it is true that Donal Vaughan's unnecessary display of petulance made it easier for referee Joe McQuillan to dismiss John Small, along with Vaughan, he wasn't chasing that either, stating: "I genuinely didn't see the incident. I was looking to get a sub in. But today isn't about sendings off. We came second to a better team in the All-Ireland final on the day."

This being their 10th game in the campaign, he wasn't buying the notion that fatigue, mental or physical, had a role to play either.

"We played over eighty minutes and were chasing down Dublin who were masters at possession. I certainly don't believe it was tiredness. At certain times we weren't able to build the margin we would have liked. But it was nothing in relation to fitness or mental fatigue."

He continued: "Just I suppose if you are a point up you are trying to do the same again in the second half. We created a lot of good chances. They scored a goal in the first few minutes but then held them from two or three from play over the next 30 minutes. So it was a case of going on and trying to repeat that."

Jim Gavin had a much stronger 'finishing team' than Rochford.

"Our bench may have more youth on it," he acknowledged.

"I thought they came in and performed admirably. I don't think there was one defining part to that game, but maybe on reflection it will seem the bench did have a bigger impact."

Just five minutes have elapsed when the Mayo media flunky has had enough. At a silence between questions he jumps in with a "thanks lads" and nobody has the heart to put any more questions to the Crossmolina man.

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