Enda Smith has suggested Roscommon wouldn’t have reached the Super 8 but for Listowel man Conor Cox.
The former Kerry panelist was in electric form as the county claimed the Nestor Cup and will be at the forefront of Mickey Harte’s thoughts as Tyrone come to Dr Hyde Park on Saturday.
Captain Smith has marvelled at how easy Cox has made the switch to the home of his father Martin.
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.
“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 skills speak for themselves. 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.”
Boyle man Smith never imagined playing alongside Cox.
“It’s crazy, the same with Anthony Cunningham. It was only after the Connacht final last year that I met Anthony, at that event, and a year later he’s my manager, and we win a Connacht title.
“Same with Conor. I knew there was some Roscommon connection there, 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.
According to Smith, Cox knew full well what he was doing when he scored that audacious point from the endline against Galway in last month’s provincial final.
“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 and then, but he can do it.”