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'It bred the group you see here today' - Memories of '98 drove Corofin to All-Ireland glory

Seventeen years on from their first, Corofin finally got their hands on the All-Ireland football title again yesterday.

Gerry Burke and Michael Donnellan were on the Corofin side that beat Erin's Isle in 1998.
Gerry Burke and Michael Donnellan were on the Corofin side that beat Erin's Isle in 1998.
Image: Keith Heneghan/INPHO

GARY SICE REMEMBERS the 1998 All-Ireland club senior football final well. Twelve-years-old, sitting up in the Croke Park stands, watching his uncle Eddie take their club to the promised land.

Seventeen years is an awful long time to wait but yesterday Sice got his turn. He kicked five points as Corofin dispatched Slaughtneil and once again left Jones’ Road with the Andy Merrigan Cup safely in tow.

“The emotion and everything was massive,” Sice said afterwards, explaining how those distant memories fuelled the next generation. “It bred the group you see here today.

It made it very easy for the coaches in the club to go to us and tell us ‘Here’s the ultimate goal,’ and we went and did it today.

Sice was quick to pay tribute to manager Stephen Rochford, who won an All-Ireland club title as a player with Crossmolina in 2001 and matched that success from the sideline yesterday.

“We were delighted when we got him in. He’s brought a different edge to us and he’s really organised us.

Gary Sice is tackled by Padraig Kelly Sice tries to get away from Slaughtneil's Padraig Kelly. Source: Cathal Noonan/INPHO

“I think we’ve always had the footballers, we just had to make sure we had a unit and a way of doing things that worked.

Looking outside the club for a manager was “a big move,” Sice agreed.

It wasn’t exactly something that everyone jumped on with but after a couple of rounds of the league and a couple of rounds of the Championship, you could see a plan staring to come together. People started to quieten down and of course started coming in behind us and give us a hand.

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“As far as the squad went, we knew what we were dealing with after session one. It was great and he’s been a super presence with us.”

On a personal level, Sice is raring to get back to inter-county action with Galway. He was dropped last year by Alan Mulholland but has returned to the panel following Kevin Walsh’s appointment.

“I’d be anxious to get back,” he said. “I missed it over the summer.

“It was a sore one and it is what it is and it happened and I am looking forward to going back. If Kevin needs me I’m available.”

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About the author:

Niall Kelly

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