'It was very coincidental that it all seemed to happen in one week' - Stephen Rochford on Dublin media campaign
Mayo manager Stephen Rochford said that an apparent media campaign driven by several former Dublin players in the build-up to last year's All-Ireland final was 'very coincidental'.
It's believed in some circles that some Dublin players used their national newspaper columns to try and influence referee Maurice Deegan by repeatedly highlighting Lee Keegan's “pulling and dragging” of Diamruid Connolly in the pair's previous matchups.
Keegan was black-carded in the first half of Mayo’s one-point defeat in last year's final and manager Stephen Rochford said last year that he was “under no illusions that there was an agenda out there” ahead of the game to influence Deegan.
Rochford reiterated the point on Wednesday when he spoke to Newstalk's Off The Ball ahead of next weekend's final.
"It's outside your control," said Rochford.
"I've no doubt that there was - it was very coincidental that it all seemed to happen in one week. Everyone seemed to have an opinion on how Lee Keegan played and they all seemed to be former Dublin players.
"He ends up picking up an unfortunate black card midway through the first half. A lot of it seems very coincidental.
"It's something that we dont look to get distracted by. We didn't feel we were distracted by it last year.
"We just need to maintain a focus on what's going to happen between the white lines of the pitch. Hopefully the referee will be a strong enough character to deal with that."
Keegan admitted in April that a media campaign was possible.
“Possibly, yeah,” said Keegan. “Refs are under a huge amount of scrutiny and pressure to perform, as well, so I can never blame just a referee.
“Maurice deemed it a correct decision and I can never argue against a referee on the day of a game because, again, he’s under so much pressure to perform, as well as us.
"So, Maurice Deegan didn’t stop us from winning an All-Ireland, we stopped ourselves. We had a chance to level the game in the last minute and we didn’t take it, unfortunately.”