Monday 24 July 2017

'He looks lost' - Joe Brolly's scathing assessment of Mayo boss Stephen Rochford

Independent.ie Newsdesk

Independent.ie Newsdesk

For the second year running Mayo have been dumped out of the Connacht championship by bitter rivals and Joe Brolly believes they have failed to build on the progress made by ousted managerial duo Pat Holmes and Noel Connelly under Stephen Rochford.

The 1993 All-Ireland winner believes Mayo had developed a 'hunter's mentality' under the stewardship of Holmes and Connelly, when they ruthlessly and clinically capitalised on mistakes by the opposition.

Since Rochford has taken over, Brolly is adamant that when the defining moments arise in games, Mayo fail to deliver the key scores required and that was epitomised by how they botched the goal attempt in the second half of yesterday's game when Danny Kirby, and then Diarmuid O'Connor, were denied by Johnny Heaney's double goal-line save.

"They missed an open goal because of panic and fear," Brolly told Independent.ie's The Throw-In podcast.

"It was one of the easiest goal chances I've ever seen at county level. There is no excuse for not putting that away."

Colm Boyle was left out for 'tactical reasons' and Aidan O'Shea was brought in at midfield with Mayo trailing and playing with the wind.

Asked why O'Shea wasn't deployed at the edge of the square Brolly added: "I get the feeling that Aidan doesn't want to play in there and it's an irony because his best year for football was 2015 when he was a wrecking ball in there."

In the aftermath of the game in Salthill, Brolly tweeted: "That was Pat Holmes and Noel Connelly's fault."

The post got plenty of reaction on social media but there was an important aspect to it.

"The tweet was a joke but there was an underlying, serious, point to it," he said.

"Serious questions were asked of the leaders in the team when Pat Holmes and Connelly were there. They made it clear that they were in charge. They weren't the players friends, they were in charge.

"It was mystifying that they were dumped in the manner that they were when the team had performed so credibly during the year and they looked to be moving on to the next level.

"But then having done that, it caused absolute ructions in Mayo because they are very community-based and they know Noel and Pat very well with their clubs and their county and we're seen as great servants of the game.

"They got rid of them on grounds that were implausible and laughable really.

"I thought they had performed better under Holmes-Connelly than they had under Horan and you see what has happened since then."

Brolly was heavily critical of current Mayo manager Rochford and some of the calls he has made during his tenure.

"(Rochford) looks to me like a manager who has no particular control and also extremely indecisive.

"I'll put it to you this way, there is nothing that Holmes or Connelly did that could equate to switching your goalkeeper on the morning of an All-Ireland final. Dropping an All Star keeper on the morning of the All-Ireland final and watching the disaster that unfolded.

"That was a huge error and I thought yesterday, there were a series of errors.

"The fact that Andy Moran wasn't getting on much ball, in a game where they only needed to kick one point (to draw), and he had already kicked a point and they took him off.

"To take off (Kevin) McLoughlin, Mayo's most reliable scorer, to bring on two lads. Young Evan Regan looked very jittery in the league and to bring him on in that couldron.

"You're back in this situation with Mayo where you get a brilliantly entertaining game and a hair-raising finale. No one has provided that drama in Irish sport like they have. People are screaming. You're aghast. You're amazed. You go through a whole gambit of emotions but in the end, unless they are ruthless come those defining moments, they lose.

"My overall impression of Stephen Rochford is that he's lost.

"I cannot think of a more disastrous tactical decision in gaelic games in the last five or 10 years than replacing your goalkeeper on the morning of an All-Ireland."

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