IN 26 years as a senior footballer Mark ‘Herbie’ Boyle enjoyed and endured plenty of climactic moments.
Now in his second year as the Killybegs senior team manager, Boyle, who retired last year but “still plays a half for the reserves,” will lead his team into the bare face of Championship when their neighbours and rivals Kilcar make the short trek to Fintra this evening (throw-in 7pm).
“Of course you’d miss it but I’d a good enough run at it,” Boyle said of his playing days, where he won four county championships and lost four finals as well.
Kilcar have won their opening fixture, 2-13 to 0-8 against Naomh Muire, while Killybegs went down 1-11 to 0-12 against Termon.
“We were very disappointed to lose to Termon,” Boyle said. “We passed up on three or four goal chances, with Michael Boyle, their goalkeeper, making a couple of great saves. Then they took their goal chance when it arrived.”
Last Saturday, Killybegs produced a battling performance to come back from the concession of two first half goals to see off Bundoran in the All-County Football League Division Two, 2-9 to 2-7, with Daniel Breslin grabbing a late winning goal.
“We showed a bit of character,” Boyle added of his team, who are now sixth in Division Two.
Picture caption: Hugh McFadden, who is on the Donegal senior football, shown in action for Killybegs against Kilcar.
However, perversely, in 2013 Killybegs went the whole way to the final against Glenswilly having lost 16 from 16 in Division 1 and three years beforehand, the side from Eamon Byrne Memorial Park reached the showpiece with Naomh Conaill.
“We still have the core of that side from two years ago but have lost a few players in recent times,” added Boyle.
One man who won’t be playing for Killybegs for the time-being is Jason Noctor, who is lining out for Donegal Boston along with Matthew Smyth.
Killybegs will be without Ciaran Conaghan, who is in South America, and Niall Carberry is a doubt with a quad-muscle injury. Otherwise, it’s all-systems go.
“I suppose traditionally Killybegs wouldn’t fear Kilcar but it’s the same as Kilcar don’t fear us,” Boyle added. “I’m sure they were rubbing their hands and I watched them last week against Gaoth Dobhair in the All-County League (winning 4-9 to 1-13) and they were very impressive.”
While once they were kings, Dr Maguire hasn’t visited either Fintra or Towney since the mid-90s.
Killybegs were last victors in 1996 while you have to wind the clock back to 1993 when Kilcar last reigned supreme.
With the McHughs – Mark, Ryan and Eoin – the McBreartys – Patrick and Stephen – not to mention the likes of Michael Hegarty, Conor Doherty and Matthew McClean, Kilcar are a side whose name is mentioned among the leading contenders to capture the Dr Maguire Cup.
After defeating Naomh Muire in their opening match, they’re well poised to advance – which was their first goal this year having failed to make it out of the group in 2014.
“That hurt us big time last year,” Kilcar manager Michael Molloy said.
“We were gutted not to get out of the group last year so hopefully that feeling will stay with us in the right manner.
“This season has been going alright for us and we’re happy enough with where we’re at.”
Molloy is reporting a clean bill of health for the trip, one of the shortest in Donegal club football.
A huge crowd is expected to converge for a red hot tussle between these two old rivals.
For Kilcar, the ambitions are to bridge the gap to ’93.
Molloy said: “It’s been a famine for Kilcar and we’d be disappointed not to make inroads in the last few years and at least make a final.
“We can’t do anything if we don’t get out of the group so, first and foremost, we need to book our place in the quarter-finals and take it from there.”Tags: