Boyler takes his final bow

Photo: Sports Joe

It was only fitting that he would be the last man standing from the U21 Class of 2006.

Colm Boyle, whose retirement from the inter-county ranks at the age of 35 was confirmed by Mayo GAA today, epitomised everything that was great about the Mayo team that competed consistently at the top level in Gaelic football over the past decade. Tough, brave and utterly committed, Boyler time and again left it all out on the park in the pursuit of glory.

Sadly, like a number of his teammates gone before him in recent years, his inter-county career has ended without an elusive Celtic cross. It’s fair to say that it wasn’t for the want of trying on Boyler’s part.

Colm played Minor for the county in 2003 and 2004 – lining out in the forwards in the first of those years – and he also featured at U21 for three successive seasons between 2005 and 2007. It was in 2006, in the wing-back position he would go on to make his own at Senior level, that he was part of the Mayo team that won U21 All-Ireland honours, beating Cork in the decider in Ennis.

Called up to the Senior ranks by John O’Mahony in 2008, Colm made his first competitive appearance at Senior level as a sub in the Round 4 League clash against Kerry – that was the infamous Spoongate encounter, if anyone recalls that one – where he came on for Liam O’Malley. Colm would go on to make 120 League and Championship appearances for the county.

He made his full League debut two weeks later in Newbridge, where fellow rookie Tom Parsons turned in a sparkling performance as we won by six points. Boyler started at corner back in that game and it was in the full back line that Johnno sought to deploy him that summer.

Colm made his Championship debut against Sligo in the Connacht SFC semi-final in June 2008 and he lined out in the corner in that year’s Connacht final against Galway. We made a jittery start that day and the Davitts man was hauled off early on as we sought to get back on terms in a Nestor Cup decider we’d eventually go on to lose by the minimum margin.

It would be 2012 and in what was already a very different era for Mayo before Colm would play Championship football for us again. After that loss to Galway back in 2008, he made just one substitute appearance in the League the following year before dropping out of the panel altogether.

It was Davitts’ run to the All-Ireland Intermediate club final in 2012 that brought him, and Mickey Conroy, back to prominence and James Horan wasted no time in recalling both to the colours. In Boyler’s case, there was no looking back from there.

Even before that year’s Championship began, he’d started to establish himself as a fans’ favourite, not least given the way he somehow managed – with at least four Kerry players shielding him – to squirm clear and shoot the ball to the net as we edged a thrilling extra-time victory over the Kingdom at Croke Park in the League semi-final.

Two weeks before that, he’d formed part of the Keegan/Vaughan/Boyle half-back line for the first time – as we trounced Dublin by twelve points at MacHale Park – and this rampaging trio were the talk of the country before the year was out.

It was in 2013 that Boyler won the first of four All-Star awards, winning again in 2014, 2016 and 2017. Along with Lee Keegan and Keith Higgins, he’s the only Mayo player to hold four All-Star statuettes. He also won six Connacht medals and a National League one in 2019.

A cruciate injury suffered in the pre-Covid League meeting against Dublin in 2020 greatly curtailed his involvement in the latter stages of his inter-county career. In fact that February 2020 match was the final one he started for the county, with his final Championship start coming against the same opposition some months previously, in the 2019 All-Ireland semi-final.

The final time he took the field for us came in July this year. That was in the Connacht SFC semi-final against Leitrim, where he replaced Paddy Durcan. There was only a small crowd at MacHale Park that day but the roar that erupted as Boyler took the field was still a full-throated and heartfelt one.

I’m reading Andy Moran’s book at the minute and it’s a difficult enough read in the sense that there’s such poignancy in the fact that so many of the players who Andy played with and whom he mentions in his book were the finest performers any of us had ever seen in a Mayo jersey. Most of them have now retired from the inter-county ranks.

Of all of them, Boyler was surely one of the greatest. A true warrior who gave it all and more, who gave us supporters some of the finest sporting memories of our lives and who gave Mayo people everywhere such a sense of pride in our team and about where we all come from.

A price can’t be put on any of that, nor would anyone want to either. Because it was, in every sense, priceless.

Thanks for all those bone-crunching tackles, those last-ditch blocks, those daring runs forward, those morale-boosting scores, thanks for everything you did for the cause. We’ll not see your likes again, Boyler – here’s hoping your future is a long and happy one. Up Mayo.

49 thoughts on “Boyler takes his final bow

  1. A true warrior and legend for Mayo. Sad to see him go and disappointed he didn’t have much game time during tge championship.. Wishing him all the best for the future. Up Mayo

  2. Great tribute WJ to one of the finest footballers I have ever seen.
    Colm Boyle, thank you for all the memories and enjoy your retirement.
    WJ, I hope you don’t mind me sharing the content and photo, I will credit you and the blog in my share.

  3. My all time 3 favourite Mayo Players in reverse order
    3rd W J Padden
    2nd Lee Keegan
    1st The BOYLEr
    And that’s coming from a Covey
    LEGEND Thanks for all the memories

  4. Thank you Colm. What a player! Will we ever see his like again? Enjoy your retirement. I hope its a long , healthy and happy one. You deserve it.
    Up Mayo.

  5. I would like to congratulate Colm on his retirement and thank him for the many happy days he has given to Mayo fans . I hope any aspiring young footballer in the County studies Colm’s commitment to the way he played the game and the hunger, fair aggression and intelligence he brought onto the field .

  6. Colm really was one of those players who after watching him would leave you feeling 10 feet tall and chest out. The pride he showed in the jersey was unreal. A warrior who could nail a man one minute and go up and kick a point the next. One of the best ever and a joy to watch. Happy retirement Colm, enjoy the rest, although I see the club have more plans for you yet!! Up Mayo!

  7. – Enjoy your well deserved retirement Boyler. You give 110% everytime you wore the jersey, those fearless tackles, lung busting runs and moments of inspiration and vital scores.
    – Hopefully the next generation of Mayo footballers will replicate your steel, energy and never say die attitude. Plenty of names mentioned as possible additions to the Mayo panel…Ethan Henry and Paddy Heneghan are two I would like to see on that panel.

  8. Willie Joe,
    You encapsulate beautifully, everything the “Davitts Dynamo” means to everyone of us that has green and red flowing through our veins….No greater warrior has represented Mayo than Boyler
    Long, healthy, happy retirement bigman…

  9. Colm has been an inspiration and role model for footballers and supporters all over the county. A player who wasn’t an instant success in his move to the senior grade, had a couple of poor showings in the green and red, was dropped, yet never gave up. But how he rewarded James Horan when given a second chance in 2012. The rest is history. He now takes his place amongst the greats of Mayo football. Enjoy retirement Colm.

  10. I remember that Connacht final in 2008 and thinking that Boyle lad wasn’t up to intercounty standard and didn’t expect to see much more of him in the green and red.
    But when he came back in 2012 under Horan he was a man reborn! He should serve as an inspiration to all young footballers in Mayo to keep going when you get a setback, and what you can achieve with perseverance, commitment, skill and hard work.
    I’m not sure I’ll ever have the fondness or admiration for a team that I had for that 2012 – 2017 team. I couldn’t hold them in higher esteem if they had won an All Ireland.
    They elevated Mayo to a level I had never seen from us, and sustained it. We were box office for the right reasons.
    Boyler was a huge part of that, I hope he looks back with pride and fond memories on all those great days he was driving the team (and the supporters) to keep pushing and believing.

  11. Great piece Willie Joe. Thanks for everything Boyler.. a true Mayo warrior. All the best in your retirement

  12. A fitting tribute to Colm Boyle, Willie Joe – a Mayo great who made an IMMENSE contribution to the cause down through the years. Just thinking to myself today what impact he might have made in the 2020 & 2021 All-Ireland finals if introduced for the final twenty minutes…

  13. What a man. What a warrior. He was a magnificent member of the best Mayo team I have seen and a magnificent part of the best half back line I have seen in any county. How I loved to see him marauding forward at pace and how enjoyable to see his bone cruching last gap tackles as he gave everything for the cause. The pride that team of 2012 to 2017 gave us and how wonderful they made us feel. Thanks Boyler for your brilliant contribution.

  14. With that glent in his eye and the familiar fist pump to the Mayo supporters, he must be after scoring a goal…
    It’s a fabulous photo of Colm and typifies the never-say-die attitude and passion he brought to the pitch….he sure as hell will be sorely missed in the green and red.

  15. Yeah, one of the all-time greats. How many times did he take the game by the scruff of the neck and rescue us?
    I was in McHale Park against Leitrim, and you could sense it in the crowd when he was about to come in. And when he did, boy what a roar.

  16. Great player. The u21 class of 2006 were a great bunch, one of my favourite Mayo teams, Cunniffe, Barrett, Boyle, Cafferkey, Higgins, Seamie oshea, Tom Parsons, Kilcoyne, Howley, Aiden Campbell, Barry Moran, Marcus Hannick, Mickey Conroy.
    Mark Ronaldson was one at the time being the best of the bunch . Sadly never really made it at senior level .it was a long time before then a mayo mens team had won a all ireland. Mid 80s I think.

    Credit to Colm Boyle one of the few players I seen to play Junior for Mayo then step up to senior and become a solid player for a number of years.

  17. A true legend. Thanks Boyler, and enjoy your retirement. I’ve lost count of all the crucial big matches he had for us; all the clutch moments he created. It’s a sad day seeing him go, but he’s left one heck of a legacy. Massive boots to fill. There’ll never be another.

  18. Even the most driven players could only bring half the intensity that Colm could muster up.
    They don’t teach that kind of intensity. You either have it, or like everyone else you don’t.
    Sometimes I almost felt sorry for the opposition.
    A fantastic footballer, and he could lift a stadium with one of his hits.
    Hats off and best wishes to definitely, one of our all time greats.

  19. Am always saddened when a seasoned campaigner has to quit the game at county level, but Boyler going is a blow.
    I often think these guys deserve some reward for their service , a holiday? a veterans club? etc…
    But tis what it tis ….. another legend bowing out and leaving us his legacy of total commitment, immense personal expense , awesome displays of power and athleticism , guile and perception , patience and generosity to us fans.
    As Buzz would say, g’lad Boyler , well done.

  20. A fantastic player, one of our best ever in my view. He was tough but fair on the football field. Loved seeing him drive forward from the back and kick a score with the outside of the boot. Can’t understand why he didn’t get a run this year. Thanks for all your hard work over the years Colm, enjoy the Inter County retirement.

  21. Words really can’t sum up Boyler ..
    One of the All time greats of mayo .
    Can’t blame him at this stage .. He was exactly what we needed introduced in the All Ireland final and possibly push Oisin into the half forward line .
    Thank you Colm for everything

  22. Best wishes to him, a real warrior and a player with tremendous leadership qualities which is an ingredient that all the greats have. I remember him in the drawn game in ‘14 driving out of defence after turn overs and powering up the field inspiring the rest of the team, himself Keegan and Higgins will always dine at the table of the greats.

  23. That goal line save in the Kerry match will probably be my greatest memory of Boyler, an absolute legend. Very best wishes to him going forwards.

  24. Thank you Colm for your outstanding commitment to our great county. We always felt confident knowing teak tough Boyler was on duty for Mayo. Im sure theres many a forward around the country relieved to hear the news! You were a gentlemen after games to those of us who were waiting to see you.
    I always felt for your family at games..they must be on the edge of their seat as you put your head where your boot should be.
    My abiding memory of Boyler is those inspirational horizontal flying blocks and the pure delight as you scored that goal against Kerry.
    Wishing you, your wife and family well. Thank you all for an outstanding dedication to Mayo and for the wonderful memories.
    You will be greatly missed. Stay safe

  25. Best of luck Boyler, one mighty bit a stuff. Gave us some great days out with Davitts & Mayo. Enjoy your “retirement ” but I’d expect & hope to see you prowling the sideline in a bib before too long. Eyes off – Andy.
    As we’d say around our parts, one sound man.

  26. Another of the greats retired without achieving the ultimate honour he so richly deserved. My favorite memory is the 2017 replay with Kerry. As they sought the goal to get them back into the match Boyler was making it clear that on this day there was no way that was going to happen. It summed up everything about this wonderful warrior.

  27. Had to post thank you to one of our greatest ever defenders. Has everything that a manager or supporter would want off any player. Great memories. Enjoy retirement Colm and hope to see you back around the county team as part of a management team as you would have some much to offer.

  28. They say that winning isn’t everything and by God I can feel that immense pride as i think of this man…Boyler. Another inspiring and amazing footballer who gave heart and soul for his county. I could not be more proud of the Mayo men that never got to the promised land. In my eyes they are over and above many who had the luck to win. They are true sportsmen and their passion inspires me and makes me tingle with pride. Thanks Colm and thank you to every single one of you, who give and have given so much for so long. Mayo will always beat with pride as long as we harvest some of your passion and dependability. I couldn’t have said it better than Tubberman up above. Pride. Mile buiochas. Maigheo go deo.

  29. Just a fantastic warrior for Mayo. One of my favourites ever as there was always a great boost to be had to morale when Colm was in the team or came on as sub. They say the legend tag is overused and it surely is but, in Boyler’s case, it is entirely appropriate. Thanks for everything Colm.

  30. It’s been ages since I posted here, wasn’t in the mood, time to step out of self imposed exile and pay tribute to Colm. A truly outstanding example of the fighting spirit you need as an individual sportsman working as part of a successful team. Tenacious, controlled, powerful, aggressive, borderline (no pun intended), dynamic and a leader. He never stood back, stepped up more than once. From the moment the ball was thrown in you knew what you were going to get. If he had been brought on against Tyrone would it have changed the result, who knows. Had he been brought on would it have lifted the supporters and and thus the team, yes. JH made the decisions on the day and maybe the romantic wanted to see Colm on the pitch. Irrespective he was and always will be remembered for the brilliant player he was for Mayo over the years. If any of the young guns coming through want to replicate what it takes to give it all for your county, give Colm a ring.

  31. Thanks Colm for the unequalled intensity and bravery you brought to every game you played for Mayo. More than any other player, you made me feel proud to be from Mayo. Wishing you and your family good health and happiness long into the future.

  32. Thank you, Colm, for outstanding displays for Mayo over the last decade, and thank you for wearing your heart on your sleeve, keeping going as is your character until the very last minute, when you feel you can give no more to your team.
    As other posters have said above, my favourite game of yours was the All-Ireland semi-final replay against Kerry in Croke Park in 2017 – you will not pass, Kerry, with Colm Boyle on the line.
    Heartfelt thanks, enjoy retirement, and don’t leave it too long until we see you on a sideline or training field somewhere.

  33. Gee its mad to think it wasnt till 2012 until he really nailed down his place on the team (always assumed he was there in 2011 for some reason), if he was under 21 in 2007 he would have been turning 26 that year – goes to show if you stick at it what can happen.

    Anyhow what a phenomenal player, always stood up in big matches

    Probably the best of the class of 06 along with Higgins. Im sure he’ll give Davitts a few more years of service yet

  34. A great player, but was taken off in many games around the 50th minute when he was only starting to warm up , Stupid technology or poor Manager.

  35. A legend for sure. One of our better players over so many years. One of my favourite Mayo players ever! Tenacious and grim determination always.Mile buiochas Colm agus go neiri leath i gconai
    Mhuigeo Abu!

  36. Great Tribute Wille Joe one of my favourite player of all time such great moment he give us supporters what a warrior it a pity we did not see him come on in this year all ireland final Thank

    Colm for all the great day you give us Best of luck Health Happiness in the Future

  37. Thank you Colm for giving us great days and great memories in last decade.
    A true red and green legend that you are and will be forever missed seeing you out on pitch giving so much commitment and skill every time.
    Best of good health and happiness in your retirement from intercounty to you and your family. So much deserved.

  38. Colm Boyle.. Inspirational, fantastic player for Mayo.. One of our greatest ever players!.. Thanks for memories, Colm and enjoy your retirement from the inter county game!

  39. A really great player playing to 100% level. Should be an inspiration to many upcoming players. If we could clone him we wouldn’t be beaten.

  40. Culmore………..I agree 100% and I thought there was surely 20 serious match-winning-effort minutes in Colm had he been sprung in this year’s AIF against Tyrone after POH left the field, but sadly wasn’t to be.

    But in any event, thank you Colm for the 110%, dogged, tenacious games you gave us in the green n red………You are truly a Mayo hero.

  41. Colm
    We’ll always be indebted to you for the joy and pride you gave us in the Mayo jersey

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