Photo: Sky Sports/Sportsfile
Today seems to be Stephen Rochford day in the media. Ahead of Sunday’s seismic showdown with the neighbours, Stephen is featured in several places today. Take your pick from this lot – Irish Times, Irish Examiner, Irish Sun, Irish Mirror, Irish Independent, RTÉ, Sky Sports.
These pieces were all culled from the Connacht championship launch last week, at which Mike Finnerty got the interview with Stephen that featured in last week’s edition of the Mayo News football podcast, so some of what’s included in today’s coverage won’t be news to you. In addition there is, of course, much commonality across the various pieces.
I liked the bit where Stephen bigs up Galway as “the second best team in the country” – a claim that earns headlines in the Indo and RTÉ. Liam Horan will, no doubt, be high-fiving with the boss when he sees this nice piece of self-deprecation.
Other outlets provide a more resolute line on which to lead, with the Mirror focusing on Stephen’s remark that the lads are prepared to “die with their boots on” come Sunday, while Sky’s piece zones in on our unique logistical challenges. Someone in the Examiner can expect a stern call, though, as they lead with a claim that Rochy isn’t having “sleepless nights ahead of Galway exam.” The Times, meanwhile, as you’d expect, shy away from dramatics with their headline, in which they quote Stephen making the rather obvious statement that we’ll be “braced for Galway’s physical challenge.”
It’s all harmless fun, of course – no doubt tomorrow or the day after we’ll see Kevin Walsh plastered all over the media, with what he had to say packaged here as bullishly positive, there as apprehensive and self-effacing, somewhere else as a bit of one and a bit of the other. It all helps to pass the time.
As regards substance Stephen provides little or nothing to chew on. He’s too long on the road for that. The main message, though, one he made clear as far back as that pre-Christmas lunch in the Shelbourne Hotel, is that this game has been the team’s sole focus ever since the draw was made last October. Of that there can be no doubt.
If you want something different to get your teeth stuck into, Mike Quirke’s column in the Irish Examiner (here) is worth a look. In it, he licks his chomps about Sunday’s clash, musing on the likely reaction in our ranks to all this bullish talk about the Tribesmen.
Today is Tuesday, of course, which means that the Mayo News is out in paper and digital variants. This week there’s a 12-page spread on the match so plenty to entertain you there, with loads of stuff on tactics, facts and figures and the rest.
One nugget from that source today comes with the news, which Mike Finnerty picked up at the provincial championship launch, that both counties will publish their starting teams for the game at some stage on Thursday. We all know, of course, that the line-ups announced then are likely to be tweaked a bit ahead of throw-in, not least given the injury stories emanating from the Galway camp and ongoing uncertainty on our side over who’s fit and available but, sure, that’s all part of the pre-match fun too.
For what it’s worth, the Connaught Telegraph has a stab at what our team might look like – here. This isn’t a scoop, more of an educated guess. We’ll still, I reckon, be guessing on starting line-ups even after the parade is mustered on Sunday.
Right, that’ll do you for now. A few have been asking about the championship prediction mini-league so, just to answer that one – yes, there will be one and, yes, I will do a post on it shortly. Later on today, in fact, if time permits.