Familiarity proving Corofin’s biggest foe in search for seven

Veteran Gary Sice explains, ‘the calendar is still a huge issue in the GAA’

 Gary Sice is hoping to win his seventh county title in a row for Corofin. Photograph: Inpho

Gary Sice is hoping to win his seventh county title in a row for Corofin. Photograph: Inpho

 

“I’d play it on Christmas Day, it doesn’t matter,” says Gary Sice, the Corofin veteran deflecting with some jest the ongoing issue of when to best conclude the AIB club championship in football and hurling. 

Corofin are out again this Sunday in the replay of the Galway football final, Sice himself producing two fearless kicks in the fourth and fifth minute of added time to secure the draw with Tuam Stars last Sunday week. 

The replay is again set for Tuam Stadium, 2pm, with the eventual winners out again on Sunday week in the Connacht club football semi-finals, against either Glencar-Manorhamilton of Leitrim or Ballintubber Mayo, who meet in this Sunday’s quarter-final at MacHale Park. 

“I’ve enough to deal with, before I can start thinking about that,” Sice added on that fixture issue, but also admitted; “I think the calendar is still a huge issue in the GAA, more so after the last weekend. 

“I think when we get the calendar review in a few weeks time and see what they come up with, it will be interesting. Now that I am on the other side with the club, it is a big issue to be sorted out. “ 

Beginning in January 2020, the All-Ireland club senior championship finals will be moving from their traditional St Patrick’s Day, the senior semi-finals in hurling and football will be played across the weekend January 4th/5th, the senior finals in both codes will now be played on Sunday, January 19th. 

“Are we helping ourselves putting the club finals back, time will tell? January/February seems to be congested with Sigerson and all going on. We’ve found that out in recent years. Pulling another competition back to that time of year when the senior teams are in pre-season and they are trying to get themselves organised, I don’t know. 

“I don’t think there is a good time anyway for an inter-county manager to have five or six of his players gone for x-amount of time. I don’t think anyone is happy with that. In January maybe when it’s pre-season, is it any more helpful? I don’t know.” 

Seeking to win a seventh Galway title in succession, to keep them on track for a fourth successive Connacht title, and third successive all-Ireland, Sice also admitted that getting out of the county championship is often the hardest ask. 

From 2021, to play the All-Ireland club semi-finals and final in January, with the ultimate intent on completing the club championship with in the calendar year. 

“We got out of jail alright, but we are still there and that’s all that matters. They (Tuam) had a really good season in the club championship and momentum is everything, so then of course it was a local derby as well. 

“I suppose we have to improve our performance, we didn’t exactly perform out of our skin or anything so we have to look at that and see why and what went wrong, just get the basics right and see where that takes us. 

“Galway is a tough championship, I know everyone says their own championship is tough but in the last two or three years we’ve had some close scrapes with very local teams with good players. It’s a running theme and the championship is a tough one, there’s eight or nine games to get through in Galway alone so we’ve just been glad to be on the right side of most of it. We have work to do now for the next one again. 

“That familiarity is always there and playing against the neighbours is always harder than playing against someone you don’t know. It just so happens that we were champions last year, and I think every champion has a target on their back.

“Gaoth Dobhair found that at the weekend as well in the Donegal final when they found it tough to get over the line and there was a lot of draws at the weekend. When you get further on in the championship teams are closer together, and as I said momentum is a big part of the club championship and that brings teams on a good bit.” 

Aged 34, Sice retired from county football in 2017, having played since 2007, and has little doubt his former ream mate Pádraic Joyce, who retired in 2012, is the right man to succeed Kevin Walsh as senior county manager. 

“It’s a change alright, it’s a different man at the top and I’m sure he’ll have his own ideas on how he wants to do things. I just want to look at Galway and see them at Croke Park at the end of the championship. How we get there is not important.”

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