Return to top tier the priority for Galway ace Gary Sice

Galway forward Gary Sice says getting back into Division 1 is the number one aim for them in early 2017.

Galway begin their FBD League schedule away to Sligo on January 8 — they are in a section with Sligo, Leitrim and GMIT before they kick off their National League Division 2 campaign against Cork on February 5.

The experienced 32-year-old won’t be involved with Galway for a number of months, as his club Corofin clash with Munster champions Dr Crokes in the All-Ireland club football championship semi-final on the second weekend in February.

But he knows it is crucial that Kevin Walsh’s men return to the top tier of the national league for the first time since 2011.

Last year Galway won the FBD League, finished third in Division 2 of the national league, won the Connacht championship, but came unstuck in the All-Ireland quarter-final against Tipperary in Croke Park.

“Last year was a stepping stone and it came a bit early for us. We have plans in place for a two or three-year stint and Tipperary put a halt on that,” said Sice.

“But that’s fine, we will go back with a few players back in, a few lads will change I am sure. We have lads getting older and it’s going to make a big difference. I’m sure Kevin will drive it on as he always does.

“The league is very important, we have footballers to find, we have lads that need a run of games and we would like to be in Division 1.

“Playing under lights in the middle of February against Dublin would be special for young lads and it would bring on their experience.

“We want to be in Division 1 and we will target it hard this year.”

Last year’s Connacht title was Galway’s first since 2008 and their 45th in all, but the provincial championship has been dominated by Mayo in recent years.

Galway ended Mayo’s reign in the 2016 semi-final at MacHale Park, but it was Mayo who made it further in Croke Park, where they were beaten by Dublin in the final.

Galway are likely to face Mayo in the Connacht semi-final again this year. And Sice believes losing heavily against Tipperary will have built a lot of character within the side. “We learned a lot from that Tipperary game. It was a very chastening experience in Croke Park. We need to get going faster and harder next time, and not be as nice about it. But we will take what we have this year. It’s a nice stepping stone to build on.”


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