By Niall Gartland
MAKING hay while the sun shines. Amy Boyle has enjoyed a wonderful 18 months with Antrim and Loughgiel camogs, and she’s hoping to pocket another winner’s medal in this weekend’s Ulster Senior Championship final against Down.
Boyle was a key figure in the Antrim side that won the All-Ireland Intermediate title in 2021, she claimed a provincial medal this time last year, and she was also one of the stars of Loughgiel’s run to the brink of All-Ireland glory on the club front.
It hasn’t always been this way – for years Loughgiel played second fiddle to Sleacht Néill while Antrim camogs struggled for supremacy against Down – but the worm has turned and Boyle is one of a host of Loughgiel players who are riding the crest of a wave.
It’s also, needless to say, nice to line out alongside so many of her club colleagues in county colours.
Boyle commented: “It’s definitely a good thing as we have an understanding of each other’s games as we’re so used to playing with each other. When I go back to the club, I’m not going back on my own, there’s six or seven other Loughgiel girls there with you. We’re so used to playing with each other and it means we can link up well, so it’s great that there are so many Loughgiel girls involved.”
Antrim were pushed right to the pins of their collars in a tense Ulster Championship semi-final victory over Derry, who happen to be managed by Loughgiel native PJ O’Mullan. A couple of late points from Caitrin Dobbin (another Loughgiel represenative…) settled the matter with only a single point separating the two sides at the final whistle. Relief was the overriding emotion for midfielder Boyle, who recently won a Gaelic Life Club All-Star.
“Any time you play in Ulster it’s going to be a tight match. We left it very late but we were happy enough with the result. We knew it wasn’t going to be a game we’d run away with. Their manager obviously knows Antrim very well, particularly the Loughgiel girls. It was always going to be a tough match but we took plenty of things from it and hopefully it’ll stand to us going into the Down game.”
While their full focus in the coming days is their date with Down, the Ulster Championship also serves as a useful exercise insofar as it helps the team in their preparations for the upcoming All-Ireland Senior Championship.
They did well in last year’s group stages of the All-Ireland and Boyle hopes they can make it into the last eight this time around.
“That’s why the Ulster championship is great, it bridges that gap between the league and the All-Ireland and helps you get up to the pace of things.
“We’re looking forward to the championship, last year was our first experience of the senior championship and we were ultimately disappointed not to reach the quarters. We’re training hard and looking forward to it, it’s a privilege to play in the senior All-Ireland.”
Boyle has lined out in a number of positions in her career, but presently she is entrusted with a mdifield berth and she’s happy with that as it ticks all the boxes.
“I’m always happy enough just to get on the team. I love to get to play midfield though because you can stitch the various roles together and do a bit of everything. But getting on the starting team is the goal and then you can worry about your exact role.”