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Dublin: 8°C Wednesday 24 February 2021

'They're all very difficult to take, too many of them now at this stage'

An emotional Stephen Rochford heaped praise on his players after another heartbreaking one-point defeat.

The Mayo manager at full-time.
The Mayo manager at full-time.
Image: James Crombie/INPHO

ANOTHER YEAR, ANOTHER heartbreaking one-point defeat in an All-Ireland senior football championship final for Mayo. That’s now eleven times they’ve fallen at the final hurdle since last lifting the Sam Maguire in 1951. The curse lives on.

“They’re all very difficult to take, too many of them now at this stage,” an emotional Stephen Rochford said post-match, after watching his side expend every last sinew only to fall agonisingly short on the big occasion again.

Dean Rock’s free, his third of the day, deep into stoppage time broke Mayo hearts again and clinched a third successive crown for Jim Gavin’s unstoppable Dublin. It’s the hope that kills you.

“It is what it is, sport can be tough and cruel but today is about Dublin and congratulations to them on three in a row,” the Mayo manager continued. “It’s phenomenal, what an era and I suppose we’ll do our best to sort of resurrect over the winter and see where we go from next year.”

For long periods of this pulsating final at Croke Park, Mayo had their noses in front and for so long — particularly when Lee Keegan hit the back of the net in front of the Hill — the westerners dared to dream only for Rock to land the knockout blow.

A Mayo fan dejected after the game A Mayo fan leaves Croke Park dejected. Source: Oisin Keniry/INPHO

Rochford could only lament the fine margins.

“We’ve a free down the other end and it hits the post. It’s fine margins but look it is what it is. I couldn’t ask for any more from the lads, to a man they died with their boots on. I couldn’t be more proud of them.

“They’ve [his players] the same hunger to win, we’ve just come out the wrong side of results too many times for our liking but sport is cruel.

“2018 championship won’t be long coming around and it’s a bit hard to think about now but we’re very proud football people and we’ll do our best to.

“We’ll go into the National League in due course and I’ve no doubt we”ll circle the wagons and give it a rattle next year.”

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Ryan Bailey

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