Stephen Rochford wants TMO to end black card controversies

Mayo manager not happy with Keegan dismissal especially after Small escaped sanction

Mayo’s Lee Keegan black carded by referee Maurice Deegan. Photograph: James Crombie/Inpho

Mayo’s Lee Keegan black carded by referee Maurice Deegan. Photograph: James Crombie/Inpho

 

Mayo manager Stephen Rochford believes there was an agenda among former Dublin players to highlight the apparent cynicism of Lee Keegan in the build up to the All-Ireland final replay.

Ger Brennan and Paul Clarke used the term “pulling and dragging” when discussing in the media how Keegan has been marking Diarmuid Connolly, while Alan Brogan suggested “Lee is getting away with more than he should be”.

Former Mayo midfielder David Brady responded by claiming an “orchestrated” campaign was taking place to put pressure on referee Maurice Deegan to rein Keegan .

Keegan was ultimately black carded for tangling with Connolly and though Rochford stopped short of claiming the referee reacted to the commentary all week, the Mayo boss did reveal his disappointment with the pre-match remarks.

Mentally tough

“Lee Keegan is one of the most mentally tough, honest to God football guys I have ever met. I don’t think it knocked a breeze out of him but I am under no illusions that there was an agenda out there,” said Rochford. “It’s unfortunate that former players would feel it necessary to get into that, guys that haven’t always been whiter than white themselves.”

Asked if he felt it was an orchestrated campaign, Rochford shrugged. “I don’t know. Four or five days in a row. But so be it.”

Rochford said Keegan’s black card was “harsh” and was another example of why the GAA should consider introducing video reviews. “There are maybe up to 10 or 12 people interacting on ear pieces,” he said. “Out of those 12 there is definitely scope for somebody to be looking at a video clip saying, ‘Maurice, it’s not as clear cut as we thought here. Or it is’.

“Or maybe like in rugby, where they say, ‘my position on the field is this, can you assist?’ Thirty seconds probably gives you a fair indication. And you look at how long it has taken for a card. It is taking them probably about a minute to produce it. So while he is gathering his thoughts, he could be communicating, saying, ‘look, I have a position here. Can we confirm it or not?’”

Hand trip

“I think everybody saw a definite hand trip in the first quarter of the game [by Dublin’s John Small]. That’s deliberate. Again, the referee may not see it based on an angle he is at or some fella lying on the ground but it’s unfortunate.”

Rochford refused to criticise goalkeeper Rob Hennelly for a number of errors in the one-point defeat including the concession of the penalty kick.

However, the former All-Ireland -winning Corofin manager accepted that his decision to start Hennelly ahead of David Clarke was “coming under scrutiny and maybe rightly so”.

Rochford, interestingly, insisted Cormac Costello’s three-point haul for Dublin after coming on as a substitute wasn’t a great surprise despite being used sparingly this year.

“Funnily enough we had a sense, during the week, that he might start,” he said. “We were just thinking what might be new by Dublin so we would have had a plan. But the reality is we had three enforced changes at that stage between the two black cards and Donal Vaughan’s injury which meant we had committed guys earlier than what our perceived changes would have been versus what Dublin’s would be.”

Rochford is confident the team will regroup for 2017 despite many players suffering a third All-Ireland final defeat.

“There will be people who will say, ‘that’s the end of this Mayo team’, but sure that’s been said for the last three years,” said Rochford. “I don’t feel that’s the case now either.”

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