Thursday 22 February 2018

'Going on stats, you wouldn't be surprised if Stephen Rochford drops David Clarke again'

Johnny Buckley of Kerry on his way to scoring his side's second goal past Mayo goalkeeper David Clarke
Johnny Buckley of Kerry on his way to scoring his side's second goal past Mayo goalkeeper David Clarke

Conor Neville

Stephen Rochford's taste for startling us with left-field tactical gambits has divided with the football public.

Many have admired his bravery and argued that his successful interventions have been too quickly forgotten (the surprise reintroduction of Alan Dillon before last year's game against Tyrone being one example).

However, others believe the replacement of David Clarke with Rob Hennelly for last year's final replay and the experiment with Aidan O'Shea at full-back cannot be excused.

Is there a possibility he could shock us again this weekend?

Speaking on the Punter's Platform on Independent.ie, Peter Canavan said the statistics indicated that Clarke's kickouts were perhaps responsible for the concession of 1-7 in the face of intense Kerry pressure last Sunday.

You would think the experience of last year's All-Ireland final replay would have convinced Rochford for say, 'never again'.

But might he allow himself to be swayed by those stats?

"The very point was made to me by a statistician up here. He said going on the stats from last week's game, you wouldn't be surprised if Stephen Rochford actually dropped his goalkeeper.

"I said that Stephen Rochford had the courage of his convictions. He certainly would if he dropped his goalkeeper.

"The other thing you must bear in mind is the pressure Kerry exert, and we only have to look at last year and the level of pressure they were able to exert even on Stephen Cluxton. So, you're not up against a team who don't know what they're doing."

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