Roscommon's Enda Smith doubtful about role of Super 8s

Player ready to give it a go as his side look to build on quarter-final replay defeat to Mayo

Now more than ever, the football championship draw feels more prologue than epilogue, and, although still keen on the provincial competitions, Enda Smith has some reservations about how the new Super 8 format will impact on counties like Roscommon.

The strong we know will stay strong, and yet the introduction of three games at the quarter-final stage may stretch and perhaps even weaken the challengers. Smith, however, is all for giving it a go, especially as Roscommon look to build on the quarter-final replay defeat to Mayo this summer.

“It’s a difficult one,” said Smith, one of the standout players in Roscommon’s Connacht final win over Galway this summer, only their second title since 2001.

“For the likes of ourselves, we’d like to think we’ll be able to compete at that level, and it’s great to get more games against the top teams, but you mightn’t get those one-off shocks, like Tipperary beating Galway last year. The whole underdog thing will be thrown out the window.


“On the flip side you will see the four best teams make the semi-final, but this summer, if we had beaten Mayo, we’d still have had a lot of work to make the semi-final.

‘Stronger counties’

“For stronger counties like Dublin it definitely suits. Smaller counties like ourselves might struggle. But I’d like to see the provincial championship kept on, definitely.”

Speaking at a promotion for the AIB-produced Behind The Gates, a four-part miniseries about Roscommon's championship, Smith also outlined his remaining ambition for 2017. Two years ago he was one of the standby players for the International Rules series with Australia, but never got to wear the Irish jersey. He's the only Roscommon player still part of the current training squad, and hopes to be part of the final 23-man panel to be named by Ireland manager Joe Kernan next Wednesday.

“I’ve been up the last four weekends at Abbotstown, it’s going okay, but there are a lot of quality players involved, 40 to 45 lads.

‘Big deal’

“It’s still a big deal, a big honour for a player from any county, and I think especially from Roscommon. And it was disappointing last time not to make the match day squad. My game probably does suit it, the fielding, the marks, but we’ll have to wait and see.”

He also says the presence of a cameraman throughout the championship was hardly even noticed. “You’d be a bit wary for the first session, maybe, but after that they just become like another member of management. It wasn’t the reason we won the Connacht final, or the reason we lost the quarter-final replay. Kevin [McStay] was 100 per cent behind it, and it didn’t affect the players anyway. We weren’t giving away any secrets. It’s no different than what goes on in any dressing-room.”

Ian O'Riordan

Ian O'Riordan

Ian O'Riordan is an Irish Times sports journalist writing on athletics