Conor Devaney remains ready for Roscommon
By Cian O'Connell
"I do think there is more in us," Conor Devaney says when asked about Roscommon's potential.
Since winning an All Ireland minor title with Roscommon back in 2006 Devaney has watched accomplished footballers join the senior panel. Out west Roscommon contested nine Connacht Under 21 Finals between 2007 and 2016, claiming silverware on four occasions.
Talented footballers have been manufactured, but only one provincial title collected since 2010. "Every year there seems to be a stronger panel of players," Devaney adds.
"The talk at the beginning of this year was that we were going to be weaker, but it seems we have strengthened as the year has gone on.
"With players coming back, and players coming back from injury it has strengthened. So yeah, I think there is room for improvement and I think we should continue to improve over the next couple of years, definitely.
"I think to become more consistent is the thing. We showed we can beat Mayo, maybe it was lucky at times, but we have to be able to prove to ourselves that we can do that a second day or maybe even a third day.
"Maybe we can't do it five days in a row, but we have to build on it everywhere. I think that’s the area that we need to improve on, definitely."
Roscommon, though, aren't operating with a full complement due to college commitments and players travelling, but Devaney believes that will always happen. "I think we are very used to that, to be fair," Devaney replies. "I think players go away and come back and that’s just the way the game is.
"I don’t think you can commit to 10 or 12 or 13 years in a row. It’s very difficult. I think what you have, we have a very strong panel of players, and if people want to go away that’s great.
"I think they should go away, but what we have is strong enough form to see improvement. I still think we should improve this year and again next year with the panel that have and the panel that we might have next year."
A teacher in Roscommon Community College, Devaney is relishing th opportunity to face Galway for the fourth year on the spin in the western showpiece.
"Yes, very much so, and very much looking forward to it," Devaney says.
"The two teams are familiar with each other. I suppose at this stage we kind of know how we are going to play in a lot of ways. There is always going to be surprises on the day, but that doesn't make it any easier.
"We know how difficult it is to play against Galway and how every team in the country finds it difficult to play against them. Although you might be able to analyse them and know they do this and do that it is still very difficult to play against them. That will be the case next Sunday."
Despite causing a surprise against Mayo, Devaney is adamant that Roscommon have significant scope for improvement.
"Yeah, absolutely we can't do things like we did the last day in the Connacht Final," Devaney stresses. "Kickouts were poor, our shooting was poor at times, breaking ball was poor. There were a lot of things where Mayo were just far better than us.
"We were lucky enough to win on the day, but it won't be enough for back to back, to win two big games in a row, certainly not."
Having featured as a substitute in the Mayo triumph, Devaney believes that the depth of the Roscommon panel continues to increase. "We just have a very strong, not alone 26, but a very strong 34 or 35," Devaney remarks.
"I don't know if you noticed, but for the last two games our 26 has changed by three or four players. Just finding it difficult to get into the team at the moment. That is no surprise.
"The team is very good, winning, and everyone is doing extremely well. I think the panel is stronger, there is more acceptance for coming off the bench.
"You could see the difference that made the last day. We had Enda (Smith), Donie (Smith), Fintan Cregg kicking the winning point, Diarmuid Murtagh coming off the bench, Brian Stack and myself.
"You need the players to buy into that, you play a certain amount of time. If you start you might play half an hour like Andy Glennon the last day, he played a brilliant half.
"His day and job was done. So it doesn't matter whether you start or finish as long as you contribute in some way that is valuable. That is the way it is."
Adapting to deal with different challenges has enabled Roscommon to enjoy a productive summer so far. Anthony Cunningham's team travel to Salthill accompanied by equal measures of hope and expectation.