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O'Boyle fired up for Derry glory bid

By Declan Bogue

Published 26/12/2015

Determined: Cailean O’Boyle is keen to make big impact under new Derry boss Damian Barton
Determined: Cailean O’Boyle is keen to make big impact under new Derry boss Damian Barton

After taking part in the infamous league game against Dublin that came to be labelled the 'death of Gaelic football' by Jarlath Burns the season just past, Derry attacker Cailean O'Boyle admits he is excited at the noises coming from new manager Damian Barton about playing a more expansive style.

"It's something the players will definitely welcome," says the Lavey man.

As a traditional target man he explains: "The way that football is played with defensive strategies, for the likes of myself standing in the full-forward line, you're playing there with everybody in your side of the field and you're lucky to get two or three touches a game.

"You might get no touches of the ball and then you're the worst player in the world.

"Definitely from a forward's point of view, a more attack-minded style would be more than welcome. It's something we've never done.

"I know the crowd and people you talk to are frustrated with Derry's style this past few years because we're nearly adapting to other teams to try and limit the scoring, whereas if we go out and play our own football, you never know what could happen because we're never used to it."

O'Boyle is struggling to contain his excitement over the prospect of working with the former Newbridge attacker, who comes with the cache of having a Celtic Cross from the Oak Leaf County's 1993 All-Ireland.

"Obviously football has developed in terms of a style of play since then, but he has been managing in Derry for years and elsewhere and he knows what it takes to win because he is a winner himself," O'Boyle says.

"Whenever he speaks, it's going to be gospel to us boys because a lot of us are sitting with no medals and he has a handful of them, so of course we're going to listen to him, because he's been there and got the T-shirt."

Derry have gone 17 years without an Ulster Championship. If they are looking inspiration for how things can turn around, they need look no further than their neighbours to the west.

In 2011, Donegal had gone 19 seasons without an Ulster Championship, but under the leadership of Jim McGuinness, went on to win three of the next four titles, capturing Sam Maguire along the way.

That sort of example hasn't gone unnoticed in Derry.

"Donegal are nearly the prime example because they were an average county and turned themselves into one of the best counties in Ireland," is O'Boyle's take.

"The manager can only do so much. It's up to the players and they need to realise that time is ticking on. I remember when I was 19 getting on the Derry squad thinking I had years and years ahead.

"Now I'm sitting here at 25 and still nothing to show for it, so your inter-county career is short and we definitely need to buy into it from now on."

His early involvement may be curtailed by a long-standing injury. Although named as vice-captain for University of Ulster's Sigerson Cup campaign, with the competition itself being hosted by the Shore Road institution, O'Boyle is cagey about when he will be fully fit.

In the qualifier defeat to Galway, he picked up a knock that developed into a nerve issue that he noticed while training with his club the following Tuesday.

"It's been at me since. I got through two Championship games with my club and that's literally been it," he admits.

"The new season is coming round the corner and we're in the middle of the season with Jordanstown now. I'm vice-captain and there's no guarantee of your place. I played one league game and that's it."

He is awaiting results from a scan, but would rather go down the route of rehabbing rather than going under the knife.

"There's no point coming in after Christmas when the season is going and having that injury hanging over you, because you'd be no use to anybody. I want to be flying fit for January for the McKenna Cup," he adds.

"You don't want to hibernate up here in Belfast and miss training at home because that's equally important, especially with a new manager in charge.

"To Damian I'm just another person in the squad, I'm no different to anybody else in the squad so I need to put in as much effort as everybody else."

Belfast Telegraph

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