Gary Sice has laid into Galway’s previous management team led by Alan Mulholland, claiming they were “jumpy” and failed to prepare the players sufficiently.
The Corofin man can’t stress enough the difference Kevin Walsh has made since he came into the role in 2015.
Without mentioning Mulholland, Sice has heavily criticised his time in charge from 2012 to 2014.
“Before, we had a management team who didn’t do the job in my opinion. They didn’t give the tools needed to deal with a Mayo side that were grinding out results and developing a machine. And they did develop a machine over a five-year period, they dominated Connacht completely through organisation, through ruthlessness, through what I could only describe as bully tactics. They really played senior football.
“And the management team in place did not equip us. The two U21 teams that came through weren’t given the tools to live at senior and Kevin has now given it to them. He’s given them a set of tools to play senior, and lo and behold they’ve turned around and beaten Mayo.
“It’s not rocket-science really, is it? But it takes someone to come in and do that and do the rough work and do the dirty work and get it right and he has done that and I think he’s onto something good.”
Mulholland had continuity in taking charge for three years but going into Walsh’s third in 2017 Sice senses more security. “I think we had a three-year period of management there where even as a management they were jumpy. They weren’t in any way organised, they weren’t in any way building something, they were just kind of hoping Galway football would take off. That’s not what happens.
“Kevin has a very distinct plan in place, he wants it done this way and we’re going to build this way and this is going to suit what we have. And when you have something like that and you can see where it’s going, we got a marker of progress this year, a Connacht final, you kind of jump on ship and say: ‘Yeah, okay this makes sense we’re making a bit of progress’.” Sice doesn’t mince his words describing the quarter-final loss to Tipperary.
“We definitely imploded,” he concedes. But after a clear-the-air meeting, he is satisfied they can learn from it.
“Sometimes when you have a new manager you need an instant hit to get confidence built up around him. The older guys would’ve understood who Kevin Walsh was but I’m not so sure if the younger quantity would’ve totally understood who they were dealing with and now they’ve seen it and lived it with him, it could be the start of something.
“And quite often things go in cycles, Mayo have had a pretty long cycle, I think there could be a wheel turning with them. I think our group is getting a little bit older, a bit cuter and hopefully they can turn the wheel on Mayo. If we turned them over in Galway that’d set down another marker.”
Sice felt Galway wouldn’t have required a second date against Roscommon in the provincial final had the weather not been so bad in the drawn game.
“If you’d had a dry day in Galway, I think you would’ve got the same thing. I think they burnt out too, it’s well talked about at this stage, they went hell for leather for February, March, April to sustain themselves as Division 1.
“It was probably smart thinking long term to make real development as a group for two or three seasons. Staying in Division 1 is going to really find out what you have and what you don’t have. We could probably do with being up there.”
Walsh revealed at the outset he found it difficult to find players but Sice felt the manager had ulterior motives for saying what he did.
“I think that was taken out of context, which was maybe what Kevin wanted. When Kevin said it where he said it, it took a bit of limelight off things we were doing and it was a good idea and it worked out well.”
Walsh would surely love to have Corofin’s Daithí Burke but the dual player is hot property to the hurlers.
“Look, every team in the country could do with a Daithí Burke,” says Sice. “There’s no doubt about that. But Daithí is Daithí and he’s going to do what he wants to do. I think hurling is his first love. And I think that’s where he’s going to go. He has two All-Stars in two years and I think he’s only going to get better in my opinion.
“He held Seamus Callanan scoreless so it’s hard to see him going away from that. I’d say Micheál Donoghue would cut the hand and head off anyone that came looking for him! I’d be in the same boat if I was him.”
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