Saturday 18 January 2020

'The decision will haunt him for a very long time': Questions for Rochford after goalkeeping change backfires

Will Slattery

Will Slattery

The big selection issue from a Mayo perspective before this evening's All-Ireland final replay was the decision to drop presumptive All Star goalkeeper David Clarke for Robbie Hennelly.

Clarke's shot-stopping has been brilliant all year, although he lost a number of kickouts in the drawn game against Dublin, prompting Mayo manager Stephen Rochford to make the chance for today's game.

Unfortunately for Mayo, Hennelly endured a nightmare afternoon - losing the first three kickouts as Dublin punished each one with a point.

Furthermore, he missed a tough free right on half time before hauling down Paddy Andrews for a penalty after fumbling a Paul Flynn shot - picking up a black card in the process.

When asked why he made the change by RTE, Rochford pointed to the success Dublin had on the Mayo kickout in the drawn game as the key factor.

"In selection you make a calculated decision," Rochford said.

"We felt in our analysis of Dublin that they had pushed up on our kickout in the drawn game and that they might target it again, that was the reason for our decision."

Speaking on RTE after the game, Brolly was blunt in judging the decision, pointing to the selection of Hennelly as a key factor in Mayo's heartbreaking loss.

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"In a game where fine margins were everything, and Mayo achieved almost everything they wanted to achieve, the decision to change the goalkeeper was a disaster," Brolly said

"Particularly because a 'keeeper (Robbie Hennelly) who has been vulnerable in the past, who has been prone to panic attacks in the past. David Clarke had played with absolute authority all year long. The difference in body language came in, the self-assurance and confidence that it gave the Mayo team. By that stage 1-3, that you have to credit the goalkeeping errors. That decision will haunt Rochford for a very long time.

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