John Evans brings hard-earned experience to Roscommon ahead of Mayo encounter
After spells with Tipperary and Meath, he is putting his stamp on a new county
“They worked very hard and got themselves tremendously fit but they just weren’t seeing the pattern of the game. There are some guys who are great club footballers, who are tremendously fit but they just weren’t seeing it. They were saying, ‘look John, we can’t get our hands on the ball’. I don’t want to knock these guys but that’s what it was coming down to.
“You try and encourage and put the hand around the shoulder and say, ‘Well look, if you do this, this, this and this, it will certainly help you.’ The thing is, a lot of guys have their own game ingrained in their head and you’re trying to get them to see a different one. It certainly doesn’t mean they’re bad footballers.”
So there’s been a fair amount of turnover. The team named for tomorrow’s tangle with Mayo shows eight different names to the one that started against Tyrone when they exited the qualifiers last year. Some of it has been natural ebb and flow, some of it has been Evans cleaning the slate.
“The players who came on board and wanted to commit, they were committing for one purpose and that was to change what was. They intend to make it better . . that’s what they came on board to do. That’s what they want to do on Sunday and in the weeks after that as well.
“The big thing with it is that it’s slow process. It’s not a ‘click your fingers and everything will be better’ job. It’s like our league form. We started off slowly and sluggishly but we got better and better as we went on.
“We were putting brick on brick on brick as we went along, building the foundations. We were trying new players and young players and by the latter end of it, we were finishing very strong.
“We’d be hoping we’ve put enough of a foundation in now to maybe make an assault on the championship. Depending on what the result is, we’ll see how much more of an effort we have to put in after Sunday.”
He knows what’s expected. How could he not? Having atomised Galway, Mayo have the look of Pamplona bulls who don’t care who they trample underfoot. Roscommon are the next victims and nobody is predicting otherwise. Evans least of all.
“We don’t know until we see what happens. We don’t know. Sunday will be another building block. There’s no point in one running ahead of yourself and saying it’s going to be the be-all and end-all. We’re on a journey, we’re a few months into this journey and this is going to be part and parcel of the building of the team. It’s going to be part of what will make us.
“Everybody and anybody will look at the score. I will look at how we played, how we reacted. I’ll be looking at other ingredients as well as the score obviously. We’ll be looking at the performance. Some people look at the performance as a sort of a shield to hide behind but there are a number of things you’d be looking at.
“The camaraderie after the game, how they react to whether they win, lose or draw. You look at a whole series of things and it’s a matter of it all being a work in progress.”
Maybe he’s playing the poor mouth. More likely, it’s just cold realism. The nomadic life depends on it.