In 2014 Roscommon were playing in Division Three of the National Football League. This year, they secured a top three finish in Division One, beating Kerry and Cork along the way.
DCU student Enda Smith is one of Roscommon’s most talented young footballers. The College View’s Conor Hawkins met up with him to discuss Roscommon’s recent success and what the future holds.
“I’d say it probably did surprise us a little,” said Smith, when asked about Roscommon’s four league victories in seven games this season. “If you told us in early January that we’d be playing in the semi-final in Croke Park we’d have been delighted. Having said that we put in an awful amount of hard work since early November and that really helped us out along the way, so it was probably deserved.”
Roscommon became the first team to play eight league games all at different venues but Smith doesn’t think that had a negative impact on the Rossies’ campaign. “I think it was just something we had to go with.
“We knew the Hyde (Dr. Hyde Park) wasn’t in good condition from the start of the year, we were prepared for any potential changes. Obviously the situation with the Dublin game wasn’t ideal with the venue change being left so late, but you can see why it happened.
“A game against Dublin would have been a huge pull for Roscommon town and would have pulled in a huge crowd. Some of our best performances came away from home, so I really don’t think it had much of an impact on how we played.”
As one of his county’s star players, Smith is often relied upon to play in different positions, but he enjoys none more than wing forward. “I was moved about a bit, but if you asked me now to pick a position I’d like a half forward position, ideally 10 or 12.
“I think wing forward is my favourite and most natural position. But having said that I do like midfield, each position has its positives and negatives. You’re less tightly marked in the middle of the field but then there are a lot of responsibilities with the kick outs. So yeah, 10 or 12 would be first preference but midfield isn’t far behind.”
“Well I think we were up against the best team in the country right now, ” was how Smith explained his side’s 3-15 to 0-14 defeat against Kerry.
“They were going very well since losing to us, winning five games in a row. They’re playing a team full of championship players who have seen and done it all.
“Having been in the semi-final obviously we would have liked to have won it, but I think if I had to put it down to something it would be that they’re just more experienced than us and they put it to use on the day.
“We can learn a lot (from that game) though. I think we might have shown a bit too much respect.
“We might have been in awe of them a small bit. Once the goals went in they really deflated us, we started to think, ‘are they really that much better than us?’
“I don’t think we’re that far off. So if we could take something from it, it would to play with no fear because we are where we are on merit.”
Despite back-to-back promotions in the league and finishing above provincial rivals Mayo this Spring, Smith insists that the Connacht Championship has to be their goal in the Summer.
“Our last three games were against the best three teams in the country (Kerry, Dublin, Mayo.) We came up short; we still have a lot to learn. Mayo are still a level above us and Galway are coming back too, but we will still be going out to win the Connacht title. There’s no doubt about that but it won’t be an easy championship.”
There have been suggestions that the rise of Roscommon isn’t just a flash in the pan, and that the county can expect to continue to grow. “We hope so,” was Smith’s modest response.
“With the two new managers in I think it’s a three or four year journey. We’re all in it for the long haul.”
Roscommon will open the 2016 Championship Stateside, as they travel to the Gaelic Park to face New York on Sunday, May 1st at 8pm IST (3pm local time).
Image credit: Sportsfile