‘It’s like a festival or Mardi Gras for Boyle GAA’

Ahead of Sunday’s historic Roscommon Senior Football Championship Final, Dan Dooner paid a visit to Boyle to gauge the excitement level amongst the locals…

Boyle GAA members and local business people have been busy in recent weeks preparing the town of Boyle for what will be the club’s first appearance in a county senior final in 95 years.

Maroon and white flags and bunting fluttered in the breeze when the Roscommon People visited on Friday afternoon last to sample some of the local excitement ahead of Sunday’s showdown with Strokestown.

At Better Buy on The Crescent, proprietor Brian Kelly had an impressive selection of flags and other maroon and white items on display.

“There’s a great community feel to it here and everyone has been out putting out the flags and bunting the last few days. They’ve been getting the local schools involved too with colouring competitions and decorating because it is history in the making after 95 long years,” he said.

“It’s just going to be a sea of maroon and white here now this week. It’s like a festival or Mardi Gras for Boyle GAA and of course you have the ladies winning the intermediate title too so it’s just been a great few weeks.

“There are great people involved in Boyle GAA and it’s all voluntary. It’s great to see it in a small community especially at times like this when there’s a lot of doom and gloom out there”.

The front window at Marian’s of Boyle features a various styles of maroon and white fashion, including a bridal gown. Owner Perpetua McGee reckons the senior footballers are ready for their own big day.

“It’s brilliant, we’re all very excited, and as you can see from the town, all the flags and bunting and window displays are going in. It’s a great community effort and there’s a real sense of that. We are all looking forward to both the senior final and the ladies’ Connacht intermediate semi-final as well,” she said.

“After everything that’s happened (in recent years), it’s lovely to have something positive to look forward to so we’ll all be going to Hyde Park this Sunday to cheer them on”.

At Chemco Pharmacy on Shop Street, two staff members have a particular interest in Sunday’s final.

Katrina Owens lives in Strokestown where she is married to former footballer, Ronan Owens. From Boyle originally, Katrina will be getting behind the Black and Amber this weekend.

Mairead McKeon hails from Ballinameen but is a committed Boyle supporter and will be at the Hyde to cheer on her son and talented Boyle forward, Cian McKeon this Sunday.

Both ladies agreed that there exists a friendly rivalry between the clubs – but not surprisingly differed in their predictions for Sunday’s final.

“Who’ll win? Strokestown definitely!” Katrina said. “Next Monday is booked off no matter what happens though”.

Mairead was slightly more diplomatic: “May the best team win. It’s great to see it coming back to the north of the county anyway”.

A mammy’s work is never done and especially so in the week leading up to a historic county final, but Mairead wasn’t prepared to give away any insider information.

“Cian is living in Dublin but he comes home at the weekends. He’s cool as a cucumber this week…he doesn’t do nervous!”

Both ladies said relations in Chemco had remained cordial since the final pairing was confirmed and they were enjoying the banter with customers and colleagues alike.

At Smith Kelly Scott Auctioneers, Boyle manager Cian was hard at work but patriarch of the impressive Smith family, Mike ‘Junior’ Smith, commented on the build-up to Sunday’s decider which will also see his sons Enda and Donie playing pivotal roles.

“It’s hugely exciting. I suppose we’ve never been there before so we don’t know how to react but in the last three or four days there has been a buzz and the flags and bunting have been put up and the schoolkids are getting involved so it’s exciting times,” he said.

“We had a poor start in the league but they got stronger as the year went on. They had players coming back from injury and they’ve a good team which has slowly progressed and got better as it went on. There’s been a couple of hiccups along the way but they got over them”.

The excitement is certainly building among the Smiths as the three brothers prepare for action this Sunday.

“There’s nearly an expectation more than anything else. There’s a lot of football talk going on at the moment but it’s good fun, it’s good banter. They’re taking it in their stride and let’s hope they perform on the day and that the management get it right on the day too,” Mike added.

“There’s pressure on them as well but it’s enjoyable pressure. It’s good to have pressure like this. It’s good to be in a final. A lot of clubs in the county and indeed the country would love to have this pressure,” he concluded.