Sice and Corofin looking forward to clash against holders St Vincent’s

Galway star was 12 when his club last claimed All-Ireland honours

Corofin’s Gary Sice: “To come out of Dublin, never mind Leinster, two years in a row is a serious feat . . . but we will have a good crack at them.” Photo: James Crombie/Inpho

Corofin’s Gary Sice: “To come out of Dublin, never mind Leinster, two years in a row is a serious feat . . . but we will have a good crack at them.” Photo: James Crombie/Inpho

 

“Bustin’ the door in, yeah. Mad for action,” Gary Sice grinned on a bitterly cold night in Corofin as he prepared for another week night session which would bring his club closer to their All-Ireland club football semi-final against St Vincent’s.

The Galway champions have been more or less on the road for a year. Another few sessions won’t make a difference but Sice has retained the enthusiasm of his debut season.

“Yeah, I love it. Everything is going well and there is a good buzz around the place. It was nice to be back with the club in comparison to other years when you would be slightly jaded coming out of the county scene. That and having a really good set up this year. Training was different and really enjoyable.”

The engine-in-chief in Corofin’s half-forward unit, Sice is one of the best known names in Galway football. He came to prominence as a member of the All-Ireland U-21-winning side of 2005, having enjoyed the last great run of Hogan Cup success with St Jarlath’s College.

Team leader

Kevin Walsh

Stephen Rochford, the Corofin manager, was happy to allow any of his players selected to train with the county and to play in the early stages of the FBD tournament.

“I’m delighted. Can’t wait. Who doesn’t want to play for Galway? So I can’t wait to get back into it in a few weeks’ time if Kevin still wants me. There seems to be a really good vibe in the camp. I was there for the first FBD games and saw some of the training and the plans and even talking to Kevin has made me excited about it.

“He doesn’t say much. But you know he is there. It is Kevin Walsh. He is a big man physically and he is a big man in football as well. You know he makes sense. When he was with Sligo, it was daunting because you knew that he knew us inside out. Got the rub of the green on us as well so it is good that he is back on our side again,” says Sice.

In the summers when Sice was involved with Galway, he was acutely aware of the monotonous existence his club team-mates endured waiting for the local championship to start. This year, he got to experience it for real and found it deeply frustrating.

“It wasn’t good. We had 12 or 13 weeks between our first and second games. It was slightly ridiculous, I felt. There was no league game. There was nothing for the club players. It has to be addressed.

“I wouldn’t like to be the man who sits down and has to fix the GAA calendar but it is simply not right that the majority of GAA players are sitting down idle for 12 weeks over the summer and then end up playing a county league final on December 22nd. Something is off there.”

Rochford’s approach and inventiveness helped to pass the weeks and a collective sense of grievance at having let themselves down against Castlebar in last year’s Connacht final kept them focussed.

Sice was 12 years old when Corofin last claimed All-Ireland honours. “All of those guys opened our eyes to what we could become. I was the perfect age to take it all in.”

In comfortably beating Ballintubber in this year’s provincial final, they have set themselves up for another tilt at All-Ireland glory. “Loaded with stars and one of the best club teams of the last 15 years,” is Sice’s summary of the Dublin champions.

Very impressive

“Once or twice I saw him up close, in league games. He is very impressive. He is the complete footballer. He has all the attributes that you would want. Both feet. Power and pace. Sees a pass, picks a pass, can burst through tackles. A right good footballer.

“We are under no illusions. But they have more than him. To come out of Dublin, never mind Leinster, two years in a row is a serious feat. So they are going to pack a punch but we will have a good crack at them.

“They are a bit more seasoned than us and that will give them an advantage. What do you say about them? They are St Vincent’s!

“But we are feeling good. It is a good feeling, to be looking forward to training in January and February.”

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