By Cian O’Connell for gaa.ie
Stephen Rochford is completely aware of the task facing Mayo against Kerry at Croke Park on Sunday.
The Green and Red will still travel to GAA headquarters hopeful about returning to another All Ireland SFC Final.
That is the prize at stake with Rochford taking plenty of confidence from how Mayo defeated Roscommon in a surprisingly emphatic Quarter-Final replay triumph.
“We wouldn’t be looking at the margin of victory as an indicator of what the game was,” Rochford says.
“The satisfying thing about it was we were still looking to push on into the 70 minutes and that had been something we were demanding 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.”
Kerry are familiar foes in the closing stages of the Championship. Kieran Donaghy’s stunning impact in two drama laden encounters in 2014 remains etched in Mayo minds.
I’d say we haven’t forgotten what he did in 2006 either and a couple in between,” Rochford remarks.
“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.
“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 to plan for him but at 6’4 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.”
In the modern game significant emphasis continues to be put on the importance of kickout strategies so Rochford was encouraged by how Mayo vexed Roscommon in this department.
“We wouldn’t be happy with how we went about applying ourselves to the Roscommon kick-out the first day,” Rochford admits.
“A slight change to how we went about that in the earlier stages of the game, but certainly what we would have been happy with was our levels of aggression on contested ball, our tackle was more at a pitch than it had been the week previous and also our ball retention was a lot more positive.
“Thoughts on the first day, maybe it was the conditions, the ball skidding and going out over the end-line. Our touch and our retention of the ball was certainly a lot better the second day out.” The next challenge against Kerry promises to be interesting.