Sunday 16 June 2019

Free-scoring Smith relishing top flight

Rory Kerr

Stephen Smith is looking forward to renewing acquaintances with Paddy Christie in the new year as the Skerries Harps sharpshooter hopes to keep his star in the ascendancy.

Smith is being reunited with his former Dublin minor manager Christie, who has taken over the DCU post vacated recently by Dr Niall Moyna.

And speaking shortly after the Dub Stars challenge at the Naomh Barrog grounds the week before last, Smith is relishing the prospect.

'I love training under him, so I'm looking forward to it,' he said.

Smith is hoping to emulate the feat of his older brother Jack, who won a Sigerson Cup title in 2015 at corner back with victory over DCU and was also on the team that lost out to UCD the following year.

DCU begin their campaign in the third week in January with a home tie against IT Carlow and Smith's ability to turn defenders - along with his versatility - makes him a big plus for Christie.

At this stage, though, Smith will be no stranger to opposition defences. A former All-Ireland Under-21 winner under Dessie Farrell, Smith gave decorated Dublin defender Jonny Cooper something of a roasting when Harps met Na Fianna in their final group game of the Dublin Senior Championship in September at Parnell Park.

In a match which Harps needed to win to progress to the knockout stages, Smith gave one of the best displays of the championship with a 1-7 tally which included scores from either side of the field.

Ultimately, though, Skerries Harps had to settle for a draw and Smith - while pleased with his personal haul - left Parnell Park with some degree of regret.

'Yes it was nice to get, but I just wish we had won that game more than anything else.

'Losing in the Under-21 final for the second time in a row was also a bit disappointing, but on the plus side we got promoted from Division 2 after a terrific game with Round Towers Clondalkin, so I'm delighted to be back up in the top flight next year.'

How much Skerries Harps are likely to see of Smith is another question, though, given his terrific form.

Admittedly, he has been involved in two fairly low-key games for Dublin against the Underdogs and Meath, but he remains one of the most talked-about forwards at the moment, having struggled with injury in the early part of the season.

And speaking of his role with Dublin, Smith said: 'I've a bit of freedom where I am playing.

'If you're getting the ball in quick, I can play inside, but I can also drop a bit deeper and create chances for others.'

Fingal Independent