A richly deserved award, as the football Gods smile on Enda

Roscommon’s Enda Smith pictured with his PwC GAA/GPA All-Star Award during the 2023 All-Star Awards at the RDS in Dublin last Friday. Pic: David Fitzgerald/Sportsfile

When referee Aaron Clogher blew the final whistle in the recent County Senior final between Boyle and St Brigid’s, I watched Enda Smith. He had played superbly, but now had to look on as his team missed out again on winning the Fahey Cup – after losing by a single point for the second year in a row.

Smith, like all his teammates, was distraught. Roscommon’s championship year had also ended with two agonising one-point defeats, against Kildare and Cork.

That evening in Dr Hyde Park (after Boyle’s defeat), Enda would have been forgiven if he had concluded that the football Gods were not on his side.

But last Friday night, the Gods smiled. The All-Star award that Smith so richly deserved came his way. The All-Star selectors don’t usually choose players from teams that don’t at least reach the championship quarter-finals. But they couldn’t resist the arguments in favour of recognising Enda this year.

What a season he had. He was superb as Roscommon easily retained their Division One status in the league. When it came to the championship, ‘Man of the Match’ displays in three televised matches had to be very persuasive, a massive performance against Mayo the pick of the bunch.

Enda Smith is a decade playing senior football for Roscommon, following his stellar third-level career with DCU. He has become a talisman for Roscommon under the respective management terms of Kevin McStay, Anthony Cunningham and Davy Burke.

The Boyle man can play at midfield or up front. His brilliant fielding, lung-bursting runs and ability to score all mark him out as a very special player indeed.

  It is no coincidence that Roscommon’s most successful period in some considerable time can be traced to Enda joining the senior squad. His two Connacht titles (2017 and 2019), the retention of Division One status, and now his All-Star award all underline that with the likes of Enda on board, Roscommon are currently operating with the elite of the game.

Enda Smith is not only a great player, he is a great guy too – and a fantastic ambassador for Roscommon football. I am personally aware of several acts of kindness and compassion that Enda has been responsible for over the years. These don’t ever get mentioned. He just gets on with it.

Enda comes from a great family and there were no prouder people in the RDS last weekend than his dad Mike and mother Mary. Big brothers Donie and Cian and Enda himself have been standard-bearers for Roscommon and Boyle football over the years.

I know how much this honour means not only to the Smiths, but to the people of Boyle and to the people of the entire county. We can all share in the reflected glory from this superb achievement. The award was so well deserved. In fact it’s been far too long coming. But the recognition has arrived now, and it couldn’t have happened to a nicer guy.