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Enda Smith following the Connacht SFC Final win over Galway at Pearse Stadium.

Enda Smith following the Connacht SFC Final win over Galway at Pearse Stadium.

Enda Smith aiming to build on encouraging campaign

By Cian O'Connell

There was no shortage of drama for Roscommon in 2017. The bitter disappointment of relegation from Division One of the Allianz Football League was followed by a stirring Connacht Championship triumph.

The story continued when Roscommon drew a gripping All Ireland Quarter-Final against Mayo before being soundly beaten in the replay. Ultimately Roscommon reflect with a sense of satisfaction on a campaign that will be remembered for their exploits against Galway at Pearse Stadium.

Roscommon reached the last eight and that will be the mission once again in 2018 according to Smith. “We got to a quarter-final, our first one in a long time so we will be hoping to build for next year,” Smith says.

“I think we are more than capable of getting into the Super 8s then. It maybe takes away the novel semi-final because a smaller ranked team like ourselves mightn't get to a semi-final because we will have to play three tough games not like a once off game.

“Ah no, we will be confident, we will be working hard, that will be our aim, to get to the Super 8s, it is where you want to play against the big teams to improve.”

Manager Kevin McStay has repeatedly referenced the 15 Division One games Roscommon played during their stint in the top flight as being hugely beneficial.

“Definitely it was good for our development because you only improve by playing the best teams,” Smith admits.

“We were lucky enough to play 15 games against some of the best teams in the country. Some of them went well, some obviously didn't. You learn every time you go out, you learn, that is the only way you will improve. It definitely stood to us, we got experience, our younger players especially.”

How important is it for Roscommon to earn promotion from Division Two? “I think it is probably where we should be with the team at the moment,” Smith states.

“I think Division One is probably a step ahead of the panel at the moment, it is still young, we still need a lot of time to develop. We are in amongst teams now in Division Two at a similar level to us.

“We will see where we are at, we are looking forward to it. Division One was tough, it was a tough winter last year, just constantly trying to pick yourself up after tough losses and all the stuff going on about players and management, hearing stuff.

“We know after this year that won't be the case, we will just concentrate on the football, to see how it goes.”

During the past half decade several promising footballers have emerged into the Roscommon panel. Connacht titles have been secured at every level so the future appears bright.

“For the Connacht final we had 11 of us maybe 24 or 25 or younger,” Smith remarks.

“We have all been in development squads won a couple of Connacht minor and Under 21s together, so we have all understand each other.

“Outside the pitch we are very pally, we would ring each other on a Saturday, to hang out. It is very important to have that understanding and respect off the pitch. You trust lads more then when you are playing.”

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