By John Harrington for gaa.ie
Mayo manager Stephen Rochford felt a good start was half the battle after watching his team storm to an impressive win over Kerry in today’s All-Ireland SFC semi-final.
Their surge ten minutes before half-time and the quick goal they got on the resumption might have looked like the most decisive phases of the match.
But Rochford felt it was crucial they were able to set the agenda from earlier on and deny Kerry the sort of fast start they have so often thrived upon.
“We knew that Kerry were going to come at us really hard,” said Rochford.
“We knew we would have to match that and do better. I thought we did that.
“It was really important that we didn’t allow Kerry to get their fast start that they had got in previous championship games. That allowed us take a hold of the game.”
Once again Rochford made the big call to play Aidan O’Shea at full-back in a man-marking role on Kieran Donaghy.
He defied a lot of critics in doing so, but was justified as O’Shea dominated Donaghy and played a big part in Mayo’s victory.
“Look…Aidan had a fine game,” said Rochford. “No doubt about that. But you’re only as good as your last game and there is another one coming up in three weeks that we will look to be better in and that’s where our focus will be.
“I thought he played well last week but others maybe thought different. I was delighted for him because he has sacrificed himself and his play for the betterment of the team. It says a lot about him.”
Mayo now go forward to contest their fourth All-Ireland Final in six years.
They came up short on the previous three occasions, last year after a replay against Dublin, so have they finally learned enough from those experiences to finally get over the line this time around?
“There are always lessons to take on the days you win and obviously on the days you lose,” said Rochford.
“Physically we are in good shape and we need to look back on the tape and see what are the areas we can get better at and how we can take the game to Dublin and Tyrone, two teams that will offer us possibly different styles and different problems but we will concern ourselves with that tomorrow.”