'Difficult to deal with' - Stephen Rochford reflects on 'big calls' that went in Dublin's favour last year
Mayo manager Stephen Rochford has admitted Lee Keegan's black card in last year's All-Ireland final replay is still "difficult to deal with" in the context of the publicity that surrounded him in the build-up to the game.
Rochford acknowledged that calls went against his team that "definitely shaped that game".
"They're big calls. Lee Keegan's black card last year, it's still a difficult one to sort of deal with on the back of the publicity that he got in the lead-up to that game. But look, in many ways, it's history and we look forward to the referee and hopefully he'll have as good a game as the two teams.
"It would have been interesting to see would their bench have been able to replace him in a game of such tight margins," he said.
"I know that when it comes down to very tight games, a decision can have a big effect on how the game can be played out and, you know, we saw that in a case last year even.
"Maurice Deegan came out afterwards to say that he missed the blatant hand trip with John Small, which had an effect on Dublin being able to still use a substitute when Cian O'Sullivan pulled his hamstring with six or seven minutes to go.
"You're expecting somebody who will be able to take control of a really big game, get the calls right, an experienced referee. But look, it's something that's outside our control so you don't give it much attention."
Rochford reiterated his view that there was an orchestrated campaign to place added attention on Keegan with a number of former Dublin players focusing heavily on the nature of his duel with Diarmuid Connolly.
"In the days after the All-Ireland final replay last year I said I did feel that it was a concerted effort. It's something that we have moved on from and we just look forward to getting on with it on the field."
Rochford said that Donal Vaughan (hamstring) and Colm Boyle (Achilles) will return to training this weekend, while Diarmuid O'Connor will have to wait until early next week for a hamstring injury to ease.