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Stephen Rochford: The Gap Is Closing Between Dublin And Chasing Pack

Stephen Rochford: The Gap Is Closing Between Dublin And Chasing Pack

Former Mayo manager Stephen Rochford believes the gap is closing between Dublin and the field chasing the four-in-a-row All-Ireland champions.

"Kerry beat Dubin here in the [2017] National League final. Why did they do that? You have to respect Dublin and the quality they have but you can't go into your shell about it because they'll absolutely annihilate you," said Rochford at AIB's media day ahead of next weekend's All-Ireland Club Football and Hurling Championship finals.

The same as with a soccer team, possession is nine-tenths of the law. If you don't go and look to battle for that ball as much as the opposition, you're going to find yourself on the back foot. So what you're really looking to play is the margin of your defeat, not necessarily going to win it.

In any of those championship games we played against Dublin it was always with a view to going out and winning the game.

I don't think you'll beat Dublin, and I don't think any team has got inside that six or eight-point margin, by playing 13 guys behind the ball.

Because, again, you're giving quality footballers so much time on the ball that they'll just pick you off. They'll just isolate where the chink is. One of the hardest things in the game is to maintain your level of concentration in those defensive situations. They just go and look to pick you off.

I don't think there is a blueprint to say, 'this is how you beat them.'

"I do think the gap is closing," continued Rochford, who is currently working as a coach with the Donegal footballers.

"Will it be this year? Will it be 2020? Time will tell. I think there's a number of teams that are certainly closing the gap or have the potential to do that.

"I don't know who that will be that's going to be their closest competitor this year but I think that's what makes the 2019 season fascinating.

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"It's going to be historic one way or another, it's going to be a five-in-a-row or it's going to be the team that dethrones certainly the best team in modern football history. So everyone's looking forward to it."

Stephen Rochford, who holds the privileged position of being both a former All-Ireland club winning manager (Corofin 2015) and player (Crossmolina Deel Rovers 2001), launched this year’s AIB GAA Club Players Awards. In their second year, the awards will see the top 15 Club footballers and hurlers honoured at a gala dinner that will take place in Croke Park Park on Friday April 6th.

Picture credit: Sportsfile

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PJ Browne
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