Mayo defender Lee Keegan says the players were shocked to learn that Stephen Rochford had departed his position.
Rochford stepped down as manager this week, citing a lack of the 'desired level of support' from the county board to continue in his role.
His decision follows a meeting with the Mayo county board executive committee last night in which he claimed that the "desired level of support was not forthcoming", adding that "disappointed him greatly".
During his time in charge the former Crossmolina club manager led Mayo to two All Ireland finals, which they lost narrowly to Dublin on both occasions - in 2016 via replay.
The 2016 Footballer of the Year was a guest on Thursday’s OTB AM and Keegan told Ger and Eoin that the panel were surprised by the announcement on Monday:
"We were all a bit shocked as a group I think we all fully believed Stephen was going to be our manager for 2019, we were looking at that and were going to build for that.
"We were in the dark a little bit because we are involved in the club championship currently and we were notified that Stephen was trying to get backroom together, there wasn’t a lot of pressure to be getting involved it was more about let Stephen and the county board work together to get what they needed for us as players and for us to start building towards putting the wrongs right next year.
"It’s a bit of a shock to the players and something we could’ve done without to be honest, we were lucky enough to have Stephen for the last three years and he nearly brought us to the holy grail on two of the those occasions, really he owes us nothing in terms of what he brought but it is disappointing for players to have to face into a winter of maybe uncertainty on who will come in and take over, that’s the biggest challenge now."
Keegan felt Rochford was placed in an unenviable position as he had to rebuild his backroom team following the departure of three key members after their elimination from the All Ireland championship at the hands of Kildare, when asked by Eoin if he deserved more support from the powers that be:
"Definitely [deserved more support] you saw from the way we played over the last, well particularly the two years, we were within a breeze of beating probably one of the greatest teams out there and that's not down to luck or any fluke at all," added Keegan.
"That's down to brilliant management, brilliant planning and having that tactical know-how, he did believe that we could beat Dublin. The only thing that probably went against us as players is we never won a medal under Stephen which is disappointing for management and probably a player point of view.
"We had Connacht medals it was all about landing the big one I think Stephen deserves any bit of praise he got or any congrats. I think it was handled a bit poorly. Stephen couldn't give us much more as a manager and from a player point of view I know he was highly regarded within the group of guys.
"Stephen's biggest challenge was trying to fill a team of guys who were with us for four or five years or six years. If that was happening in any other county, including Dublin or Kerry or Tyrone, that's a huge void to fill and a lot of pressure on guys and I think you need to take your time in doing a process and look at the best possible candidates coming in and pick up what was left behind.
"Stephen deserves huge praise and from a personal point of view and a group point of view we can't say no more than thanks to him because he did so much with us and he pushed us to the boundaries we never thought we would never go."
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