Stephen Rochford to join Donegal set-up in surprise move

By John Fogarty
GAA Correspondent

Former Mayo manager Stephen Rochford is expected to join Donegal as Declan Bonner’s new coach and selector.

Rochford, who stepped aside from his native county last month citing a lack of support from the board executive, is set to take the place of former footballer of the year Karl Lacey who recently left the role after a season due to family commitments.

Bonner has been determined to keep the move under wraps, denying late last week that the Crossmolina man was joining his management team when quizzed on the matter.

The keenness of Rochford to return to the inter-county scene so soon after his three years in charge with his native county will surprise some.

However, Rochford had intended remaining in charge of Mayo only to be dissuaded by officials’ lukewarm backing for his new management team.

A switch to the Ulster champions will be considered a coup in light of Rochford guiding Mayo to back-to-back All-Ireland finals, not to mention the All-Ireland senior club title he won in charge of Corofin three years ago.

Ballybofey is a five-hour return commute from Rochford’s home in Ballinrobe but the distance is not a major factor for the 40-year-old.

Because Donegal were relegated from Division 1 this year, Rochford will avoid a reacquaintance with his former Mayo charges this coming spring.

Donegal drew Fermanagh at the quarter-final stages of the Ulster SFC in last Thursday’s 2019 Championship draw, a repeat of this year’s provincial final.

They open their Division 2 campaign away to Clare on Sunday, January 27.

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