'We wouldn't be where we are without Cox' - Smith
Enda Smith knew all about the talents of Conor Cox long before he became a Roscommon player, but admits he never expected to play alongside the Kerry native.
Cox has been a revelation for the Rossies since his transfer at the start of the year, helping them to a memorable Connacht title that saw them beat both Mayo and Galway in the tournament.
Smith believes he is one of the best ball strikers in the game and has first-hand experience of playing against him, as he was part of the DCU side that saw off UCC in an epic Sigerson Cup final in Cork back in 2015.
"I actually knew Conor from playing against him in college. He was UCC, and I was DCU, and we met a good number of times, had some good battles," Smith recalled ahead of Roscommon's opening round Super 8s clash against Tyrone in Dr Hyde Park on Saturday evening.
"I knew he was a quality player, but him coming into the panel, when you hear he wasn't playing with Kerry, you wonder will he be a squad player, and will he play at all? But he fitted seamlessly into the group.
"Outside of football he's a top fella, and that made a huge difference. He came in, was very, very relaxed, and I think his football skill speaks for itself.
"He's one of the sweetest strikers of the ball, and the frees he's hit, too, he's done that in the league, so it was no surprise that he's been doing that in the Championship.
"But he's been a real, real boost for us, and we probably wouldn't be where we are without him."
Cox delivered a wonder point against Galway and the debate on whether he meant it or not still rages in the Roscommon dressing room.
"He was getting a lot of stick for the one he took from the left alright, because he thought I was on the back post. But he swore to me that he meant it. And he kept saying, 'no matter what they say, tell them I meant it'. I'll hold him to that.
"He has it in his locker alright. I don't know if he meant it there, but he can do it."
And Smith says that his assimilation into the Roscommon dressing room, having previously been part of Kerry set-ups, has been seamless.
"I knew there was some Roscommon connection there (his father hails from the county), I just didn't know how strong it was. Like he was in with Kerry at the time, and I thought 'nah, he'll never come up with us'.
"Even geography wise, it just seemed a bit bad. But it's funny to be playing with him now, and almost like we know him for years."