Saturday 18 November 2017

Championship is where we'll be judged, insists Rossies' Smith

It was another busy day in the Fitzgibbon and Sigerson Cup
It was another busy day in the Fitzgibbon and Sigerson Cup
Donnchadh Boyle

Donnchadh Boyle

As Roscommon manager Kevin McStay pointed out on Sunday, his side are 'novices' when it comes to operating at the highest level.

McStay was talking after his side were given a sharp reminder of what life is like in the deep end when a half-strength Mayo side pulled their FBD League encounter out of the fire, overturning an eight-point deficit with just 14 men to head into the League on a high note.

Afterwards, Roscommon forward Donie Smith insisted he wasn't overly worried by the collapse, insisting that 2016 had taught them lessons about moving too well early in the year.

"We were eight points up with seven or eight minutes left and we kind of just folded in the last few minutes, but it's not the end of the world," Smith said.

"If we had won like last year we may have gotten ahead of ourselves so I wouldn't be overly worried."

Twelve months ago, the Rossies were early favourites for the drop from Division 1 and a first-round defeat at home to Monaghan cemented that opinion.

However, a remarkable series of results that saw them record an historic first League win on Kerry soil, an 18-point demolition of Cork by the Lee as well as a win in Donegal helped them into s surprise League semi-final appearance.

"We did a lot of work before Christmas (2015) and leading into February so our fitness levels were good and we were very fit," he said.

"And we have a very skilful set of players so I thought that if we were there or thereabouts in every game, with the amount of work we had done before Christmas we'd be able to pull a few wins out of the bag.

"We probably surprised a few people and maybe the few results we got away from home last year did surprise us a small bit.

"Last year we would have looked at the home games to win, and I think we only won one of them."

Having pulled off those shock results in 2016, Smith believes many will expect his side to struggle in the top flight this time around.

"You are playing against the best teams in the country and that's the level you want to pit yourself against and we are hoping we give a good account of ourselves again," said Smith, who along with his brother Enda accounted for 2-7 of the Rossies' total last weekend.

"And look if we stay up, great. If we don't it is not the end of the world either. Tyrone and Galway played in Division 2 last year and it didn't do them any harm at all.

"Maybe there's the second season syndrome. People will be expecting Roscommon to be going well at this time of year like we were last year and maybe the year before but all we can do is focus on our performance."

"Realistically Championship is what it is all about and that's what we'll be judged on."

Roscommon play Galway in this Sunday's FBD final and Smith admits last year's Connacht final replay defeat will be on their minds.

"Silverware is on the table so we'll be looking to get it as will Galway," he said.

"They gave us a bit of a trimming in the replay last year so hopefully we can put in a good performance and get the win."

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