Sunday 17 February 2019

Galway will inflict 'awful damage' when pitches harden - Sice

Gary Sice Photo by Ramsey Cardy/Sportsfile
Gary Sice Photo by Ramsey Cardy/Sportsfile

Sam Wheeler

Gary Sice reckons Galway's 100pc start in Allianz FL Division 1 can be a launchpad for them to kick on and do "awful damage" to top teams as the ground hardens.

The Tribesmen's winning run has been built on miserly defence, but former star Sice expects their "frightening" forwards to come into their own and starting racking up big totals.

Sice (33), who is preparing for an AIB All-Ireland Club SFC final with Corofin and retired from county duty in January, said of the Galway forwards: "It's early days but they have the potential to do awful damage. If they all clicked on the one day, it would be frightening.

"It will be exciting for Galway supporters, myself included, over the next couple of months to see them evolving, and getting the hard ground and letting loose on teams."

In particular, Sice is expecting great things of Damien Comer and Shane Walsh. "Damien is just a wrecking ball," he said. "But we get sidetracked by his wrecking-ball status. He is actually a very, very good footballer. As the ground hardens and the weather gets better, he is only going to get better.

"Shane is absolutely frightening when he gets everything together. If the day comes when he clicks for 70 minutes he's going to destroy someone. At the moment he's doing it in 10-, 15-minute bursts. He's 24, he's developing. You can't expect him to drop into inter-county football and just to explode. It's exciting for every Galway supporter to watch him, every time he gets the ball. And that's what we're looking for in Galway. We're looking for a bit of excitement, for something different."

However, the Tribesmen have played a less buccaneering, more counter-attacking style this year, as evidenced by the scorelines in their four games - they beat Tyrone 1-9 to 0-8, Donegal 1-12 to 0-14, Mayo 1-13 to 0-11 and Kerry 1-14 to 0-14. Sice, though, does not feel they should make any apologies for moving with the times.

"I don't see what they are doing different to any other team in the country," said Sice. "Tyrone have done it for years. Dublin are doing it. I was in Croke Park at a recent league game I saw and no Dublin player in the other half. Galway are just playing very well. Everyone is doing their job. Everyone is working really hard for the team.


"You can call it defensive,but it's just a style of football that's winning for them at the moment, and if it's letting the likes of Eamon Brannigan get 50 yards of space one on one, I am happy enough with it."

Sice feels that Galway have perhaps been held back over the years by a romantic adherence to a swashbuckling style. "We had our own way of doing things and we stuck to it," he said. "Maybe we had to evolve a little bit to match up with what's out there.

"There's always been chan​ges, and there will be changes again. At the moment Galway are doing something that's really working for their group, which is the main thing."

Asked if he's been surprised by Galway's league form, he said: "I thought they would do very well in Division 1. It's been a historical thing with Galway: the better the teams they play, the better they play themselves."

Irish Independent

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