by John Fallon
Long-serving defender Colm Boyle believes that the long break caused by their early championship exit last summer could stand to them in 2019.
The pain of that premature exit has started to ease six months down the road and Boyle says he’s raring to go again with James Horan at the helm.
The 32-year old captained Mayo for the day on Sunday when they exited the FBD Connacht football league following a penalty shootout against Galway at Tuam Stadium, but the Davitts club man says he is excited about what 2019 promises.
For the first time in eight years Mayo did not have an All-Ireland semi-final or final to look forward to last summer, but Boyle says that extended time away from the game has the Mayo squad eager to hit the national league with intensity.
“We’re really looking forward to getting going. That gave me a bit of a taste for it today. It’s been a while since I played in front of a crowd like that, a bit of an atmosphere,” said Boyle.
“There was a good buzz around the place today, Mayo and Galway, a local derby. I haven’t played a big championship game in six or seven months now so it was good to be back.
“It gave us time to get other stuff done maybe off the pitch. That’s where I found the time, other things in life got taken care of in the six or seven months off. It was great in that side of it.
“But it’s great to be back at it. Only time will tell down the line whether the rest was a good thing.”
Boyle has been one of Mayo’s toughest defenders since he made his debut in 2008, but it was under Horan’s leadership that he played his best football in the county shirt. Alongside Lee Keegan and Donal Vaughan, Boyle was part of a brilliant half-back line that brought Mayo to All-Ireland finals in 2012 and 2013 under Horan, and he says it was an easy decision to give it another shot with Horan back in charge.
“It was an easy decision, absolutely. I was delighted to be asked by James for a trial game. Absolutely no probably coming back.
“There’s good excitement around the place, good buzz, lads are moving well. We are looking forward to the start of the league in two weeks time.
“We’ve a big game against our neighbours Roscommon on a Saturday night, so there is everything to play for as the start of the league comes.”
Boyle said that the FBD League provides teams with a good platform to build their season on.
“It’s pretty much the same as a national league now, the same intensity is there. The first 20 minutes I would say both teams were blowing fairly hard. There was a good tempo to it.
“We got a good start but we probably didn’t get the scores we needed in the first half. We had them pinned in a lot but we didn’t get the return from it but overall it was a good performance.”
Mayo had two outings with the new rules but Boyle said that most players weren’t in favour of restricting play to three handpasses at a time.
“I wouldn’t be a fan of it to be honest. I haven’t talked to a player yet that is. It suits a team that set up defensively and want to get numbers behind the ball. It plays into their hands so I wouldn’t be a fan of it,” he added.