Roscommon captain Enda Smith remains optimistic
By Cian O’Connell
Buoyed up by a splendid Connacht Championship triumph, Roscommon captain Enda Smith believes Anthony Cunningham’s charges are now well placed to make an impact in the All Ireland Quarter-Finals Group Phase.
Having defeated Leitrim, Mayo, and Galway out west, Roscommon are loaded with confidence ahead of their opening fixture of the last eight against the winners of Tyrone and Cavan at Dr Hyde Park on July 13.
“Coming off the Connacht Championship beating Galway and Mayo, it brings more confidence than anything to the lads,” Smith says.
“We can play against these lads, compete at this level that they have been at for years. Winning breeds confidence, getting a Connacht medal is brilliant, and I think the fact we have four weeks to prepare for the Super 8s.
“We don't know who we are playing for sure, but we have a good idea. It is going to be Cavan or Tyrone, Cork or Laois, there is a good idea there about who we are going to be playing.
“I think we are definitely coming in with a good mindset, hoping to give a better account of ourselves than we did last year. We weren't happy because last year obviously didn't go too well, we want to give better performances to see where it takes us.”
Throughout the campaign Roscommon have demonstrated admirable resolve with Smith acknowleding the steely determination of Cunningham’s approach.
“That has come from the top down with Anthony, he has a hurling background,” Smith admits. “He has instilled a lot of confidence in lads, just individually, I think that kind of grit is in players.
“You just can't put it into a fella, it was always there in a lot of lads, it is just coming out this year with the coaching and encouragement we are getting off Anthony and our selectors.
“It has added a bit more to us definitely, making us a bit harder to play against definitely. We'd like to think we are a bit more solid at the back because that was always our Achilles heel, just conceding scores too easily. He definitely has added something to us.”
Valuable lessons were learned during the inaugural running of the new Championship Quarter-Finals format in 2018 according to Smith.
“Definitely, there was massive learning, massive for the management, our old management Kevin (McStay) and Liam (MacHale) and the guys, and even more so for the players,” Smith replies.
“The quick turnaround if you get any knocks, you have a six day turnover. It is not like the League, it is a bit different intensity wise in the Championship, it is a different ball game. You really do feel the knocks, the bangs and bruises after a Championship game.
“ You are mentally and physically tired. Getting that turnaround and recovery in the week's of the games is huge, but this is what we play Gaelic Football for. It is akin to being nearly a professional athlethe, game after game. We are really, really looking forward to having a good lash at it.”