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18th Nov 2023

Gary Sice goes full Benjamin Button with incredible performance in win over Ballina

Lee Costello

Gary Sice

Corofin 0-16  0-12 Ballina Stephenites

Gary Sice went full Benjamin Button in Corofin’s victory over Ballina Stephenites, as he rolled back the years to put on an incredible performance.

The 39-year-old kicked points, threw dummies, tracked back, set up attacks, and was at the heart of his side’s win in the Connacht Club Championship semi-final.

Interestingly Ballina appeared to win the toss but chose to play against the wind, rather than with it, giving Corofin full advantage to showcase their great attacking talent.

They did exactly that with the evergreen Sice starting as he intended to go on, with the first score of the game, followed shortly afterwards with a tidy free-kick, clearly getting into his groove.

Full of confidence now, he let his adventurous side run free, and even attempted a delightful through ball over the top that almost sent his teammate in on goal, a pass not usually seen in the modern era of club football, particularly with the horrible conditions at Salt Hill.

It took 15 minutes for Ballina to get their first point thanks to a free from range by 21 year old Frank Iwirn, but surprisingly the Mayo champions pressed the opposition kick outs and tried to take the game to the Galway kingpins.

This was surprising considering how defensive-minded they have been in recent games, and the fact they haven’t conceded a goal in their last four matches is testament to that.

However, when you have a forward like Sice up front, it almost doesn’t matter what style of football you play, he will find a way to make space, and the way he did it was just delicious.

The former inter-county star almost sent the defender back in time with a classy dummy solo off his left, before he then sliced it with the outside of the same boot, and Ballina could only watch as the ball beautifully curled over the bar, with perfect precision.

It wasn’t just the old master who was getting the scores however, as 19-year-old Jack McCabe popped two points over the bar himself, and Corofin’s blend of experience and youth made them look very strong going into the second half.

Now with the wind on their backs, and a lead to chop at, Ballina were adventurous right from the off, kicking a long ball in from the throw in which was won by Evan Regan, who took the mark and popped it over.

That set the tone for the rest of the half which turned into a very open, attacking match, with both sides kicking plenty of ball, and refusing to take a step backwards.

If Sice hasn’t aged in 39 years, he certainly wasn’t going to in the last 30 minutes, as he picked up exactly where he left of in the first, kicking his fourth point early on, making it four in total at this stage.

Full credit to the Mayo’s representatives today, because they were relentless in their attempt to come back and win this game, unleashing wave after wave of attack, and managed to close the gap back down to just three points.

Despite their admirable comeback, McCabe really started to take charge and took the game by the scruff of the neck, proving to be an incredible talent for the Galway side.

There may be a 20 year age gap between McCabe and Sice, but they both finished the game with five points each, and are proving to be an unstoppable duo as Corofin march into the Connacht championship final.

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