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'Take what you feel is needed and go do your best' - preparing a team for a big day

Stephen Rochford shared his wisdom with Shane Keegan on this week’s coaching podcast.

Stephen Rochford: one of the game's modern coaches.
Stephen Rochford: one of the game's modern coaches.
Image: James Crombie/INPHO

THIS WEEK ON How To Win At Dominoes, our coaching podcast, Shane Keegan has the opportunity to quiz one of Gaelic football’s most forward-thinking managers, Stephen Rochford.

Before he progressed to become Mayo manager — where he almost masterminded an historic All-Ireland victory –  Rochford experienced great success at club level, guiding Galway side Corofin to the 2015 All-Ireland club championship.

Their semi-final win that year over then Dublin kingpins St Vincent’s was a seminal moment for the club and for Rochford himself.

Speaking about a rumoured 2,500 word document that the management team prepared on St Vincent’s in the lead-up to the game, Rochford touched on some of his beliefs around preparing a team for a big game.

“Vincent’s was a massive exam. And if you’re going to sign up for an exam then you’re going to try and do your homework,” he tells Shane. 

“They had been the team on the national stage for probably three or four years beforehand and everybody knew the quality of players that they had. So it was a massive task for us. Corofin in their previous two if not three All-Ireland semi-final opportunities had come out the wrong side of the result.

“We knew that we had one shot at this and we had three months from a provincial final to an All Ireland semi-final… so you had time to prepare properly.

“We tried to look at everything from their kick-outs to their free kicks. We looked at the likes of Mossy Quinn and Diarmuid Connolly and these guys and tried to just give lads one nugget of information that they could use.

“It was never a case of trying to drill stuff down fellas’ necks about the opposition. We felt very confident around our own ability. But if you can try and give guys something that helps them prepare, that helps them to execute then so be it.

“And some of the guys would have probably taken one piece of information whereas other fellas would have been looking to suck up five or six pieces of information. You’re just trying to provide them with an environment that allows them to go and do what’s best. And again, it was always situational. Take what you feel is needed and go and do your best.”

You can listen to this episode and the archive of discussions with Stuart Lancaster, Padraig Harrington, Billy Walsh and more by becoming a member of The42

Learn more about what we produce each week here

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