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Published: 16:41 | 17/7/17

Rochford expects Cork response


Mayo manager Stephen Rochford expects Cork to come back strongly in Saturday's All-Ireland SFC Round 4A qualifier at the Gaelic Grounds.

Cork were heavily criticised after their 11-point defeat to Kerry in the Munster SFC final on 2 July, with the Sunday Game panel of Dessie Dolan, Aaron Kernan and Pat Spillane all making Peader Healy's side rank outsiders to win the Sam Maguire in September.

But Rochford expects a strong reaction from Cork in Saturday's qualifier in Limerick, with an All-Ireland quarter-final against Roscommon up for grabs should the Rebels win.

"We're all well aware of the criticism they have taken over the last couple of weeks, certainly since the Munster final," he told the Western People.

"We expect them to be coming with a backlash. We know, ourselves, that they're very physical, a hard-running team, so we expect it to be a very tight affair.

"At the same time, we're happy with the performance trajectory that the team were given and I expect that to continue."

Mayo made it through to the final round of qualifiers with a seven-point win over Clare, and Rochford was particularly pleased with the side bounced back from a slow start in their 2-14 to 0-13 win over the Banner at Cusack Park, Ennis on 8 July.

"Look, we were slow getting out of the blocks. After 20 minutes, we had only one point, which was scored inside the first minute. So we wouldn't be happy with that first quarter," he said.

"But I would say that, over the remaining three-quarters, we played the better football. We certainly didn't help ourselves in that first quarter. 

"Our energy levels were off and, maybe, that was a bit of a hangover from the extra-time against Derry [in the second round of qualifiers on 1 July]. But that certainly won't be any excuse going into the Cork game."  

In other Mayo news, midfielder Barry Moran made his first appearance in almost nine months following an Achilles injury, in Castlebar Mitchels' 2-18 to 0-7 Division 1A victory over Davitts on Saturday.

Image: Inpho/ Cathal Noonan

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