Tuesday 23 January 2018

Rochford concerned by multiple avenues of Kingdom attack

Mayo manager Stephen Rochford. Photo by David Maher/Sportsfile
Mayo manager Stephen Rochford. Photo by David Maher/Sportsfile
Donnchadh Boyle

Donnchadh Boyle

Mayo manager Stephen Rochford has warned of the array of attacking threats Kerry pose ahead of their All-Ireland SFC semi-final clash in Croke Park on Sunday.

Kerry full-forward Kieran Donaghy was dominant in their quarter-final win against Galway but Rochford insists that given the options available to the Kingdom, they can't get too hung up on trying to halt the giant attacker.

"You start to over-focus on Kieran Donaghy, and James O'Donoghue is going to make a fool out of you or Paul Geaney will start to pull the strings or Johnny Buckley and David Moran," Rochford warned.

"We can spend the next 20 minutes talking about the list of options that they have but I think we have a couple of players who will look to probably keep Kerry busy.

"Look, it won't come down to any one individual. Kieran, by the position he plays, the physical attributes he brings to the game, has proven to be a challenge for Mayo defences over the years.

"Look, we'll try and plan for him but at 6ft 4in or 6'5", only to a point can you plan. But that might also be around what's happening around the field in trying to starve possession.

"There will be a couple of things in that but they will take more time to tweak in the coming days."

While he agrees that the match-ups on Sunday will be significant, he also hinted that keeping possession will be high on his side's list of priorities.

"I think match-ups play a part in it. You can only probably look to influence maybe 50pc of them because you're looking to impose or play to your own strengths or your own game-plan.

"So Éamonn (Fitzmaurice) and Kerry will have an idea around what they would like to do to thwart that.

"I would certainly look at primary possession and getting your hands on that ball, be it from kick-out, throw-up, any of those contests, and holding on to it.

"The more you hold on to the ball the less opportunity you're giving the opposition. The more you can starve that Kerry full-forward line the more work they will have to do to get the ball back. Possession is nine-tenths of the law."

Rochford was delighted with his side's performance in the quarter-final replay win over Roscommon but insists it was of only limited value to his side in the build-up to this week.

"We wouldn't be looking at the margin of victory as an indicator of what the game was. The satisfying thing about it was we were still looking to push on into the 70 minutes and that had been something we demand of the players and of each other.

"That was the height of our analysis of that game because Kerry will bring a totally different set of problems.

"It's not something we'll be taken in by saying we'll be able to do this, that and the other.

"The important thing throughout the qualifiers was to win games.

"And to beat Roscommon was what was required to get into a semi-final. We're not going to give it any in-depth analysis because I don't think there's probably value in it."

 

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Irish Independent

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