Enda Smith on Roscommon’s chance of Super 8s’ redemption…
What a difference a year makes. After the disappointing Connacht final loss last year, Roscommon came back to defeat Armagh in the final round of the qualifiers – but that was only a brief ray of sunshine for the team. The reality of the Super 8s was harsh for the Rossies as Tyrone, Donegal and Dublin swept past them. It seemed like a blur as Roscommon went from celebrating their qualification for the Super 8s to the despair of being also-rans in the group. Roscommon captain Enda Smith is glad for a chance to put the record straight this year.
He was speaking at the launch this week of the All-Ireland series in Scotstown, County Monaghan. The Boyle man has welcomed the change in the format of the Super 8s which sees the provincial champions being rewarded with a home game in the first round.
“Had the rules not changed our first game would have been against Dublin in Croke Park which would have been very tough. It is a massive boost to have our first game at home. Having said that it will still be tough for us against Tyrone.
“The first 35/40 minutes of games in the latter stages are like a game of chess. You are just feeling each other out and then it might open up in the last 10 or 15 minutes, it’s vital to be there within striking distance at that stage” says Smith.
Looking back at the game against Tyrone in 2018 Enda says that Roscommon made too much of their win against Armagh in the qualifier.
“I suppose we were very naive to think Tyrone would give us the chances Armagh did, the amount of opportunities we had in that game, and I suppose Tyrone punished us. They are a good team. They made it to the final last year. You can’t afford to do that (give chances) against the top teams”.
That first foray into the Super 8s in 2018 was one to forget as Roscommon lost all three games – by an aggregate of 39 points.
“I’ve said it before – it was just real frustration and we were embarrassed by how it went. As players, we really had to reflect on ourselves. You can talk about management or whatever, but a lot of the same players are there this year and we are just looking to really represent ourselves a lot better than we did last year. If we don’t, we really need to look at ourselves”.
The two heaviest defeats came in Croke Park, but the Roscommon captain insists the players are eager to get back there.
“Player-wise we can’t wait. Playing in Croke Park, our second game is obviously against Dublin, so pitting ouselves against them, who have been the benchmark for the last four or five years, will be brilliant. Obviously there is a lot of talk about Dublin on the outside, externally, but I’d always say they have an exceptional bunch of players and they don’t get enough credit like they should.
“To pitch yourself against them, the best players in the country, and seeing where we are really at in Croke Park, in the bear pit, that’s what we want”.
Roscommon are searching for more consistency and Enda Smith says that the team are getting there.
“Our consistency hasn’t been there. You think you are getting it after 2017 and the Connacht final then last year we flopped a bit in the final against Galway. You back it up then with a decent performance against Armagh, but then in the Super 8s you are going back to flopping again. I think it is slowly but surely getting there, but we need to gather a bit more consistency. The Super 8s will give us a further chance to get that going and we are really looking forward to it” he concluded.