ROSCOMMON fans may not like it, but John Evans is adamant that promotion is a step too far for his currently buoyant troops as they face into a crucial home showdown with Meath this weekend.
The Rossies claimed three points from their first two outings in Division Two of the Allianz Football League, and only a marginally inferior scoring difference to Cavan sees them edged out of the promotion places.
With Meath visiting Dr Hyde Park this Sunday (for an early 1pm throw-in), the hosts could find themselves in an even healthier position afterwards - bearing in mind how the Royals proved such poor travellers to Galway a month ago.
But Evans, for all his reputation as a loquacious font of positivity, seems determined to deflate the early-season bubble of hype. This has been building in the wake of their first FBD League title in 16 years, when they ambushed Mayo and then plundered four goals past Galway in the final.
There followed a slightly underwhelming NFL home draw opener with Cavan, but then came a rousing four-point win in Down. "We are not ready for Division One, we don't have the pool of players," Evans later protested.
"That still stands," he reaffirmed to The Herald yesterday.
" It's something that Roscommon people don't like. It's something maybe a lot of players don't like. But that is being realistic."
The Kerryman is "certainly happy" with the start but clarifies: "The realistic challenge for Roscommon is to consolidate our position. We only have three home games and they are three really, really tough games.
"We saw what we got in the first one - a point. Meath and Galway are the other two," he adds, describing these as a "massive, massive challenge" for a newly-promoted outfit.
"It's a case of having to win your home games - so it's like a four-pointer," he says, focussing on Meath. "Looking at them in their game against Kildare, they were behind and showed true Meath grit by coming back and taking them in the home straight.
"Look, we know Mick O'Dowd is rebuilding and has a lot of good talent in there.
"They should have got promoted last year, and this year they are expected to be promoted. Again, it's too early in the league - one glitch (against Galway) doesn't make them a bad team.
"With the likes of Eamon Wallace coming back and Conor Gillespie, these guys will add huge, huge impetus because they are first-choice players."