Sunday 18 August 2019

Enda Smith eager to banish memories of 'embarrassing' Super 8s no-show

Enda Smith is mobbed by supporters. Photo by Stephen McCarthy/Sportsfile
Enda Smith is mobbed by supporters. Photo by Stephen McCarthy/Sportsfile
Donnchadh Boyle

Donnchadh Boyle

Enda Smith is relishing another shot at the 'Super 8s' and admits he was "embarrassed" by the county's performance at that stage of the All-Ireland race last year.

Roscommon reached the All-Ireland quarter-finals through the back door last year but started poorly, losing to Tyrone in Croke Park on a day where they conceded 4-24. That result put them into a tailspin from which they never recovered.

"The first 35/40 minutes of games in the latter stages are like a game of chess. You are just feeling each other out and then it might open up in the last 10 or 15 minutes," says Smith.

"I suppose we were very naive to think Tyrone would give us the chances Armagh did, the amount of opportunities, and I suppose Tyrone punished us. They are a good team. They made it to the final. You can't afford to do that against the top teams."

Frustration

As it happened, the Rossies lost all three games by an aggregate of 39 points.

"I've said it before - it was just real frustration and we were embarrassed by how it went," Smith adds.

"As players, we really had to reflect on ourselves. You can talk about management or whatever, but a lot of the same players are there this year and we are just looking to really represent ourselves a lot better than we did last year. If we don't, we really need to look at ourselves."

Two of those defeats came in Croke Park, but Smith insists the players are eager to get back there.

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"Player-wise we can't wait. Playing in Croke Park, our second game is obviously against Dublin, so pitting yourself against them, who have been the benchmark for the last four or five years will be brilliant.

"Obviously there is a lot of talk about Dublin on the outside, externally, but I'd always say they have an exceptional bunch of players and they don't get enough credit like they should.

"To pitch yourself against them, the best players in the country, and seeing where we are really at in Croke Park, in the bear pit..."

Smith also believes that winning a second Connacht title in three years shows that the Rossies are becoming more consistent.

"Our consistency hasn't been there. You think you are getting it after 2017 and the Connacht final then last year we flopped a bit in.

"You back it up then with a decent performance against Armagh, but then in the Super 8s you are going back to flopping again. I think it is slowly but surely getting there, but we need to gather a bit more consistency."

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