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Saturday 10 December 2016

Duo's elevation masking reality

Boyle's elation tempered by release of PFAI's 105-man transfer list

Dundalk star Andy Boyle is pictured during his first Ireland senior squad training session in Abbotstown ahead of Saturday’s World Cup qualifier against Austria in Vienna. Pic: Sportsfile
Dundalk star Andy Boyle is pictured during his first Ireland senior squad training session in Abbotstown ahead of Saturday’s World Cup qualifier against Austria in Vienna. Pic: Sportsfile

This was a day when the League of Ireland showed two faces.

On one side, with the thumbs up and smiles ready, we had two Dundalk players, Andy Boyle and Daryl Horgan, training with the Republic of Ireland senior team ahead of Saturday's World Cup tie in Austria.

History being made as this is the first time since 2001 (bar Dundalk man Gary Rogers' elevation to the senior squad earlier this year) that a home-based player was in the Ireland squad for a competitive game.

And given the praise heaped on Horgan by Roy Keane yesterday, there is a chance for him to feature in Vienna on Saturday, which would be the first time in 31 years that a footballer played for the Irish national team in a competitive game while attached to an Irish club.

So smiles all round and a chance for some FAI official to again, laughably, claim that Abbotstown had created the atmosphere for this to happen.

Boyle and his Dundalk team-mate Daryl Horgan limber up with Glenn Whelan. Pic: Sportsfile
Boyle and his Dundalk team-mate Daryl Horgan limber up with Glenn Whelan. Pic: Sportsfile
Boyle in action for Ireland Under-16s against Northern Ireland back in 2006.

Yet at the same time that Boyle and Horgan were training with their new team-mates, the other side of life in the League of Ireland emerged through the clouds and the rain of Dublin.

The PFAI, the body which represents League of Ireland players, yesterday morning issued its annual end-of-season transfer list, composed of footballers who are out of contract and looking for work. There are 105 names on the list for now, probably more to come.

Boyle, who has previously had a non-football job in the off-season, knows the pain that many of his fellow pros face now they are out of contract and will be without any income from football until they go back for pre-season in three months' time.

Problems

And despite the glow from this call-up for himself and Horgan, he knows that can't mask the deeper problems for his less-fortunate LOI comrades.

"I was talking to a Cork lad who won the Cup on Sunday and he was saying 'I've got to go on the dole this morning'. It's crazy how it works," says Boyle.

"Surely there's something we can do to bring the League on to 52-week contracts. It's obviously a difficult time for lads to be out of work. Lads put a few bob away which is a bit of a help, but it's not ideal.

"The League's been like that for a long time and the sooner they bring on the 52-week contracts, the better," added Boyle, who previously worked in sales in the off-season.

"I never signed on the dole myself but that's the scenario some lads face. The time of the year as well, they go from earning decent money during the season to having nothing when they need it most of all."

That point made by the 25-year-old, Boyle can look forward to the rest of the week's training schedule and his hopes of making into the final squad when Ireland travel to Vienna.

His progress, to his current status as an Ireland squad member, backs up the theory that, while the long-established system of sending our young players to England at 16 has produced some of our finest, such as Damien Duff, Robbie Keane, Shay Given and Richard Dunne, that route does not suit all.

In his teens, Boyle was just one member of a Crumlin United squad who were sought-after across the water, but even at that age, England was not for him.

"When I was younger I had the chance to go away but at the time I wasn't ready. I was homesick and I wasn't enjoying it," says Boyle, who went on to graduate from UCD.

"It wasn't that I had one bad experience as such. It was the whole thing of being away from home at that age and it wasn't for me.

"I made the decision, it was maybe a big decision for me to make at that age but I knew I didn't want to go away at that time.

"Mentally more than anything, it is difficult. I was 14-15 going away and when the process begins it just wasn't for me. I'm glad I got a Leaving Cert behind me and it's worked out to get a senior call up now.

"It's probably a message we need to get through, that you don't need to go away straight away. Playing in the LOI is not the worst thing and sometimes they think it is, they think their chance is gone but it's not the case at all.

"Just because you don't want to go away at 15 it doesn't mean you have no ambition or it's the end of the world. We all have different takes on it. I went to UCD after that ]and playing senior football from that point has really helped me."

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