He’d be shattered coming off, he just fired himself into tackles

Mayo’s Colm Boyle (Image: ©INPHO/Laszlo Geczo)

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FORMER Mayo boss Stephen Rochford has hailed the “relentless effort” of Colm Boyle as the veteran defender announced his retirement from the inter-county game.

Rochford – who managed Boyle to the 2016 and 2017 All-Ireland finals – praised the 36 year old's dedication and willingness to do whatever it took for the team.

Boyle was first involved with Mayo under John O’Mahony at the end of the noughties, but initially struggled to make an impact at senior level.

His club, Moy Davitts won Mayo and Connacht honours and went to an All-Ireland intermediate final in 2012 with Boyle and club mate Michael Conroy called into James Horan’s panel.

Boyle went on to win four All Stars and six Connacht medals, before a knee injury sustained in the League 18 months ago curtailed the end of his Mayo career.

“You got what is said on the tin,” said Rochford.

“Without being all cliched, Colm was small in size but not in heart or stature.

“He knew he had to bring an edge to his game because he wasn’t as physically imposing as some of his peers.

“He always played it on the front foot and took the game to the opposition, be that in his defensive role, or when Mayo had the ball.

Mayo's Colm Boyle with Shane Walsh of Galway
(Image: ©INPHO/Donall Farmer)

“There are plenty of images of Colm driving forward, the typical outside of the right shot across the ball in Pearse Stadium, Castlebar or Croke Park.

“At the same time he was able to deliver good defensive displays as well – Stephen O’Brien, Con O’Callaghan in the 2017 All-Ireland final. He was able to deliver both sides of what was expected of him as a defender.

“You got reliability and you got loads of a guy that understood that every time he was going out, he was representing the people of where he came from.”

Boyle scored a stunning goal against Kerry in the drawn 2017 All-Ireland semi-final, while he also specialised in blocks, big hits and long range points.

“The bits of Colm that are seen are the goal, the points, the big hit,” continued Rochford.

“He really gave Damien Comer a big hit back in the 2014 Connacht final. Damien Comer was only on the scene, 21 or 22. He hit him an almighty shoulder and Comer had to go off.

“But what doesn’t always spring to mind is the defensive work – tying up the Con O’Callaghans, that clearance off the goal line against Kerry in ‘17.

“Unfortunately a ball ricocheted off him for one of the own goals in the 2016 All-Ireland final drawn game, but he was absolutely uncompromising in relation to his willingness to do whatever it took for the team.

“If it was a man marking job, if it was to move position, if it was to pick up a key player – no ask was too big for him.

“That sort of reliability and consistency of performance were key elements to him.

“He was ever present. His injury history up to 18 months ago was really, really small, a bang here or there. He’d give everything in training to do it again in the games.

“He’d be shattered coming off on 62 or 63 minutes because he had just fired himself into tackles, into breaking ball situations, getting up in support, tracking other men.

“Really relentless effort – just somebody you could always depend on.”

Rochford says Boyle would have spoken occasionally to the team, but it wasn’t his style.

“He was very much the cut of, ‘I will do my talking on the field,’ and, ‘I will lead by example out there.’

“By and large he left the talking to others. He was a leader. He gained the respect of players and management.

“He generated a huge amount of respect from his performances, not on a reputation coming from underage, although he was part of the under-21 team that won the All-Ireland in 2006.”