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Amazing community spirit helping to fuel Antrim star Kevin O'Boyle return to action

 

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Fitness fight: Kevin O'Boyle is battling injury

Fitness fight: Kevin O'Boyle is battling injury

�INPHO/Lorraine O'Sullivan

Fitness fight: Kevin O'Boyle is battling injury

Long-serving Antrim defender Kevin O'Boyle is no stranger to the inactivity which all GAA players are enduring right now.

For the best part of 18 months, the Cargin clubman's staple medical diet has been a mix of painkillers and injections as he continues to battle osteitis-pubis, a deep-seated groin complaint that he felt could prematurely terminate his playing career.

But former county skipper O'Boyle, who was a key figure in the Antrim side which stunned the pundits by reaching the 2009 Ulster final in which they were beaten by Tyrone, has unearthed a fresh raft of inspiration having observed the manner in which society in general and the GAA in particular has rallied round to help those in need in these challenging times.

"When I watch the way in which people from all walks in life and GAA club members in particular are throwing their weight behind their communities, I think it is amazing," says O'Boyle.

Having made his debut in 2007, the 32-year-old acknowledges that he is now a seasoned veteran but the lure of the saffron jersey still continues to consume him.

He last played for Antrim in 2018 when he lined out as captain against Down in the Ulster championship quarter-final at Pairc Esler, Newry before facing Offaly in the qualifiers.

And while his desire to resume playing is the ultimate priority, there is another reason why he would be keen to link up with the side again.

"Over this recent period, Antrim manager Lenny Harbinson and others associated with the team have been more than understanding," he reveals. "They have always been at pains to let me know that I was in their thoughts. This has served as a spur to me in my bid to regain fitness.

"The physios and medics have been more than helpful and I am certainly not giving up hope.

"My Cargin club manager, Damian Cassidy, has also been unbelievable. I suppose you could say that I am at the older end of the spectrum so it is that little bit harder to get back to where I was.

"When you are injured, it's a very lonely road but when you get the kind of support that I have been getting that certainly makes it a lot easier."

With Antrim, like all teams, still awaiting confirmation that the Allianz League will be completed, O'Boyle is particularly anxious to see the side get the chance to fulfil their two outstanding fixtures against Wicklow and Waterford.

"We missed out on promotion last year and it would be a shame if the lads and the management team did not get the opportunity to make their bid for a place in Division Three his time round," states O'Boyle.

Belfast Telegraph