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Dublin: 3 °C Saturday 23 March, 2019

'In that moment you’re thinking, I’d do anything to win' - Stephen Rochford on Lee Keegan's GPS trick

Mayo will be back, he says.

Image: Tommy Dickson/INPHO

MAYO BOSS Stephen Rochford says critics must appreciate the context in which Lee Keegan’s All-Ireland final GPS incident took place before castigating his player.

The All Star defender removed the tracking device from his jersey and threw it in Dean Rock’s direction in a desperate attempt to distract the Dublin freetaker in the dying moments of September’s championship finale.

Rock, of course, nailed the free and Dublin won another title while Keegan was widely criticised for his unsportsmanlike act, as were Jim Gavin’s players for their holding of opponents off the ball before the full-time whistle.

“In a moment in time you’re just thinking, God, I’d do anything to win the All-Ireland,” Rochford said on last night’s Off The Ball.

“Dublin players did that and I wouldn’t castigate them for the fouls off the ball.

“It’s not a case I’m saying it’s the right thing to do, either, but I understand in that moment why you’d place yourself into that. I think people just have to understand the emotion that’s there and move on .

“I don’t think it’s a reflection of anyone’s character or anything like that.”

Rochford faced plenty of criticism himself over the course of the summer, particularly after the drawn semi-final with Kerry in which Aidan O’Shea was tasked with marking Kieran Donaghy.

One memorable newspaper column claimed the Connacht side were ‘lions led by donkeys’ which Rochford admits had an impact on his family.

“It wasn’t something that I was aware of initially,” he says, “and I got a call on the Monday morning from a guy in the management team. Actually my sister-in-law had got married that weekend and I’d actually met up with them on the Sunday night just coming back.

“So we were in the hotel and I just went to tell my wife that my sister-in-law had overheard it and in the wider discussion that started to upset people that were there.

“An aunt of my wife’s and my own family would have been a little bit disappointed with the headline.

“But I would have said afterwards, headlines are written and people make comments. People are pundits on a Saturday and experts on a Sunday and the element was that we were still in the game and we would have learned lessons coming out of that game and we would look to put them into practice the following week.

“In essence what we want to get out of that tactical move, it doesn’t necessarily need to be approved by a journalist or somebody on the radio or the TV. We just need to be comfortable about it in our squad; and we were.”

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