Monday 25 September 2017

'Corofin don't wrap guys up in cotton wool' - Rochford

Corofin manager Stephen Rochford
Corofin manager Stephen Rochford
Donnchadh Boyle

Donnchadh Boyle

It remains the one of the trickiest elements of the All-Ireland series of the club championship.

When it comes to filling the gap between the end of the calendar year and the renewal of hostilities in February, it seems there's no hard and fast rules. And ultimately, results decide whether that time was spent wisely or not.

Corofin and their manager Stephen Rochford aren't claiming to have the answers to that conundrum but they took their own approach to it.

They cut their players loose to play for other teams. It's a strategy that carried an inherent risk but in the nine weeks since they beat London champions Tir Chonaill Gaels in the All-Ireland quarter-final, they haven't picked up an injury ahead of the trip to Tullamore to take on St Vincent's on Saturday.

"It's a bit of a lottery in terms of what you can do," Rochford admitted. "You have to consider ground conditions and how much bodies can take that have been on the go for 11 or 12 months.

"Sometimes a change can be as good as a holiday. I wouldn't be a believer in wrapping guys up in cotton wool. We made a decision after going to London that we would try and be receptive to the various other stakeholders.

"We have the county under new management and all the change that that brings. We also have lads on scholarships in college so we agreed to a little bit of flexibility.

"You have to be pragmatic about these things. Our trainings would have to be at a high level to play a team like St Vincent's. You have to be going hell for leather so it's not as if they are taking a step down going to play county or Sigerson football."

Perhaps another reason Rochford cut his players loose was to ensure they'd be battle-hardened. After all, Corofin have won their three games since emerging from the Galway championship by margins of 35, nine and seven points.

They had 24 points to spare in the Galway semi-final and 18 in hand by the end of the final. That's an average winning margin of more than 18 points a game stretching all the way back to September, though a lack of truly competitive games hasn't been mentioned in their build-up.

"I don't think we can focus on that too much," Rochford said.

"Hindsight is a great thing and my view on that might have changed if you ask me next week but we can't change things that happened in the past. We're just trying to put all the pieces in place and hopefully that will be enough."

Strong

Corofin have beaten some strong opposition along the way, not least in Ballintubber, who themselves had taken out last year's beaten All-Ireland finalists Castlebar Mitchels and 2013 All-Ireland champions St Brigid's.

But St Vincent's undoubtedly represent their biggest test yet and Rochford is full of respect for the Dublin side.

"They have got quality all over the field. Every one of them could play intercounty football in different positions," he said.

"And they are a footballing team. I don't see any blanket defences coming up this weekend but it's not all champagne football with them either. They work very hard and we respect that hugely; even the guys like Ger Brennan and Mossie Quinn and Diarmuid Connolly - they are the same.

"But we like to think we have some similar qualities."

Irish Independent

Editor's Choice

Also in Sport