Sice gets behind calls for a club final in December
Gary Sice has renewed a call for the All-Ireland club finals to be brought forward into the same calendar year that county and provincial championships are concluded to avoid another winter of preparation.
Corofin completed their first three-in-a-row of Connacht club football titles with a four-point win over Mayo's Ballintubber on Sunday. They won't play their All-Ireland semi-final against Gaoth Dobhair or Scotstown until the second weekend in February, with a potential All-Ireland final five weeks later.
Sice, twice an All-Ireland winner with Corofin, says that from a player's point of view, it would be far more appealing to get the competition wrapped up before Christmas.
Just a day after a Roscommon recommendation to Central Council for a committee to be set up to look at a fixtures overhaul with a 'blank canvass' approach, the former Galway player thinks it should be possible to close the competition by the middle of December.
"Wouldn't it be lovely to have the two semi-finals in the first week of December above in Croke Park and the All-Ireland final there two weeks later?" he said. "Wouldn't that just be a fantastic occasion to have that played under lights this month on the best pitch in the country instead of being up to our ankles in muck somewhere next February.
"What is the point waiting until the middle of February when there is every chance you will be playing in the middle of a storm on a heavy pitch when you could be playing this on a really good surface and at a stage of the year where all the teams are in perfect shape," he continued.
Sice believes further tightening of the inter-county and provincial club schedules can make this possible. "Anything can be done. If they can bring teams to Sydney and Boston, they can surely bring clubs to Croke Park in the calendar year.
"It would be lovely. I don't know when they will do that or if they will. I don't care really. I am enjoying it the way it is," he added.
Sice says the challenges of facing into a third successive winter of preparation are mental more than physical.
"It is the longevity of it. We are on the go now a long time but a lot of it is in the head. Physically you will keep going but the odd time you will get tired, although we are not tired now. We are very aware of what is to come over Christmas and the break is extremely different, it nearly feels like you are starting out with a new team again."
Corofin surged in the second half and got a lift from the arrival of Ian Burke off the bench after his recovery from a rib injury.
Sice feels Burke is a worthy All Star recipient in 2018 and is a joy to play with.
"No-one who has ever played with Ian Burke would be raising their eyebrows about him winning an All Star - he is that good."