Stephen Rochford: 'It just wasn't to be'
By Cian O’Connell
“It just wasn’t to be,” Mayo manager Stephen Rochford admitted following a compelling All Ireland SFC Final at Croke Park.
Mayo contributed handsomely to another enthralling encounter against Dublin, but the holders finished strongly to retain Sam Maguire.
“You lose consecutive All-Ireland finals by a point and you just tap your cap to Dublin,” Rochford reflected. “Today is about them.
“In fairness: a phenomenal achievement to win three in a row. Congratulations to Jim (Gavin) and Stephen (Cluxton), but it just wasn’t to be.
“We rapped the post with a free in injury time and Dean Rock, not to take away form the enormity of the kick, had one from a slightly easier margin and he nails it. Sport can be cruel sometimes.”
Rochford didn’t want to place too much emphasis on John Small and Donal Vaughan’s dismissals during an action packed second half.
“It would be easy for us to jump on that,” Rochford stated. “These things happen. 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.”
Following a campaign stuffed with high octane matches, Mayo boss Rochford was adamant fatigue wasn’t an issue. “Not at all,” Rochford replied.
“We played over 80 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.”
Having delivered such a smart response following the early concession of a goal to Con O’Callaghan what was Rochford’s message at the interval? “Just I suppose if you are a point up you are trying to do the same again in the second half,” Rochford answered.
“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.” Mayo did their utmost, but Dublin’s late flurry was decisive.