Encouraging times for Boyle
By Cian O’Connell
Dr Hyde Park will provide the backdrop for Boyle’s eagerly anticipated Roscommon Senior Football Championship Semi-Final against Padraig Pearses.
Several prominent inter-county players will be involved as two teams seek to earn a passage to a county decider. The Smith brothers, Enda and Donie, Evan McGrath, and Cian McKeon have all played for Roscommon, while former centre back Sean Purcell is also a key figure.
That Boyle are back relevant again in the top tier of the Roscommon game is a source of considerable pride with Chairperson Kathleen Hanmore optimistic about the future.
Hanmore has served Boyle in a plethora of different roles in recent years and is delighted that the significant work carried out in the juvenile ranks is now being reflected on the senior stage.
“Absolutely, it has been an evolving project,” Hanmore admits. “It isn't something that has happened overnight, we have been senior since 2013.
“Unfortunately on previous occasions when we were senior we tended to go down to intermediate straightaway. The fact that we managed to maintain senior status for six years has been a very significant factor in getting to this year's semi-final which we have achieved now.
“Maybe we had an inferiority complex, I'm not quite sure. Despite the population base still the numbers playing football at adult level would be around the 30 mark.
“I suppose there is a myth that a town team you should have a huge pool of players, but that hasn't been the case at all. We've had a relatively small panel considering the population. We wouldn't have the same pool of players as the Roscommon or Athlone clubs to draw on.”
Now, though, a feeling exists that Boyle can be sustainable at the highest level in Roscommon. Hanmore is very much a subscriber to that particular theory.
“There is huge work going on,” she adds. “Just looking at it from a demographic study that Ger Aherne is doing, we have 53 coaches involved in Boyle GAA across ladies and men.
“There is a huge, huge volume of work being done with our underage teams. Most of them are playing in Division One and we have a high calibre of coaches involved.
“Fergal O'Donnell is the minor chairman of the club, Stephen Bohan is the coaching officer. There is great expertise becoming available to the club.
“It is brilliant for football in north of the county. We tend to have a bit of an inferiority complex in relation to clubs from the south of the county. It is great overall.”
Ahead of the weekend’s encounter the excitement is increasing throughout Boyle. “Initially when the draw was made we would have been described as being in the group of death, that is the way it would have been looked at,” Hanmore says.
“We were drawn with Western Gaels, Clann, and Pearses. It looked and definitely seemed to be the most difficult group to get out of.
“I think we have definitely put that notion to bed, we lost to Pearses in the opening match, we had a very comprehensive win over Clann, and then we drew with Western Gaels.”
Hanmore has contributed to Boyle’s rise, but still derives pleasure and enjoyment from trying to develop the club further.
“First of all, I'm a blow in to the town, but I got involved like most people do,” Hanmore remarks. “Second of all my own fellas was playing football since he was six or seven and I always feel you should give back something to the organisation.
“I also believe that you learn so much and gain so much from being involved in these organisations. We've had huge developments in the club in terms of facilities over the past 15 years too.
“I'm proud to say I was very much part of the development of the infrastructure and facilities around Boyle GAA. You get a great sense of pride and achievement from seeing things happen. Obviously you have black and dark days, but as a voluntary organisation the GAA is up there with the best.”