By Niall Gartland
THREE of Tony Boyle’s daughters will line out for Dungloe in Sunday’s Ulster Junior Championship final against Lavey, and he’s the first to admit that their presence is the reason he got involved in the first place.
The Donegal icon had been deeply involved in the men’s side of the club, the ladies not so much, something that didn’t exactly go unnoticed by his own flesh and blood.
Team captain Saskia and sisters Justine and Ulitah, not to mention Zariah who moved to Australia earlier this year, bent the ear of their esteemed father a few years back and it’s fair to say it’s paid off.
Dungloe have gone from strength to strength at underage level and their young team are tearing it up in the adult grade. An Ulster Championship title is the big prize on offer this weekend, and Boyle explains how they’ve got to this point.
“There’s been a ladies side to the club for the last ten years or so. The likes of myself, Eamonn Sweeney, Joe Boyle, Shaun Sharkey and Jamie Sweeney all had daughters playing and we got involved in the coaching side of things.
“We’ve had an exceptionally talented group at minor level and there’s another group of u-14 girls coming through the ranks. We’ve had unprecedented success at underage level and it’s starting to bear fruit now. We’ll enjoy Sunday and hopefully there’ll be an Ulster title at the end of it if all goes well.”
As we’ve gathered, it’s a family affair for the 1992 All-Ireland winner, who felt obliged to lend a hand to the ladies in the cub.
“I’d managed the senior men’s team across two different three-year terms and managed the minors for a couple of years. I used to get it at home that I did nothing for the girls, so I got involved with the u-13 team about five years ago.
“A lot of those girls played in the minor championship final that we unfortunately lost last weekend and are now playing for the senior team. I doubled up between them this year.
“It’s been a great experience, four of my daughters were playing on the senior team this year albeit Zaria has now moved to Australia.”
“It can be stressful at times, sometimes nobody’s talking to you in the car on the way home from training, but listen, all in all it’s been very enjoyable.”
It’s been a grinding run to the final as they needed extra-time to get the better of Coalisland in the quarters before pipping Tyholland in the semi-finals by a point in the semis. All the while, their minor stars, of which there are many, had been fielding in the Donegal Minor Championship, losing out in the final last weekend.
“Eight of the minor team started the Ulster Junior Championship semi-final against Tyholland, they’ve had a tough couple of weeks.
“They’ve been out three weeks in-a-row and that’s been difficult because we wanted to give the minor championship a good go as well. I think we just ran out of legs a wee bit near the end of the final because we’d been playing the previous two weeks as well. I’m sure the girls will do their best to set aside the disappointment of that defeat and will be ready to go again this Sunday.”