It might be next season before we really see the best of Andy Boyle but the centre half is in no mood to wait around to make his mark on the Dundalk team.
The one-time Republic of Ireland cap returned to Oriel Park in July after two years in England and Scotland.
Coming straight into the side for Champions League matches when he should have been entering pre-season saw him thrown in at the deep end and while his performances have been good to date, there is a feeling that there will be more to come from the 28-year-old once he gets fully up to speed next season.
Boyle has already collected an EA Sports Cup winners’ medal since his return to the club, with a league winners’ medal to follow later this month. Now the centre half is hoping he can do enough in the two remaining league games away to Cork City on Friday and at home to St Patrick’s Athletic on October 25th to convince Vinny Perth to start him in the FAI Cup final against Shamrock Rovers on November 3rd.
“I’ve come in straight at the deep end where I should only be in pre-season but you’re playing big games,” he said of his start to life at Oriel Park in his second spell here.
“That’s a good complaint as such but I think the fitter you get the more enjoyable it will be and the better you will play.”
Boyle dismissed the idea though that he had one eye on next season.
“I wouldn’t say so,” he said.
“You have to live in the present and I’m really enjoying it. It’s nice to come in and get a couple of medals and I’m looking to get a couple more before the end of the season.
They’re what you look back on at the end of your career when you retire. They’re the magic nights when you’re winning the league in Oriel and stuff like that. They’re the best nights of your career and this year is no different.”
Having experienced the FAI Cup as a winner (2015), as a loser (2016 and 2011) and as a fan (2017), Boyle knows all about the big day out at the Aviva and he says he is just as keen as anyone to be involved against Shamrock Rovers next month.
“It’s a massive game. I’ve just got to make sure that every time I play in between now and then that I perform as best I can.
“As you can see, there’s plenty of competition for places in every position. There are 20-odd lads who want to be in that Cup final team and it’s probably hard for the manager to pick a squad never mind a starting 11. Myself personally, I’ve just got to make sure that I give him a headache really.”
While Dundalk’s experiment with three centre halves on Friday night ended with defeat away to Bohemians, Boyle said it is something he feels could be worth exploring further.
“To be honest with you, I actually thought it went well,” he said.
“I know the result would probably suggest otherwise but individual mistakes happen. That happens to us all but overall I thought we passed the ball well and I thought we got out from the back at times well. Overall I think it’s a positive one. It’s one that we can put in our armoury going forward. It’s not the result that we wanted. We didn’t want the run to end like this but I suppose it had to end somewhere.
“You’re probably always going to have a night like this once the league is wrapped up but like I say we did our business right. We did have a bit of flu in the camp and sometimes when we’re around each other that much it’s usually the case that if one gets the flu then six or seven get it but we prepared well and like we would for any league game. It wasn’t for a lack of effort that we went down to them. It just wasn’t to be.”
Now Boyle is expecting another tough test against a Cork City side who finally clinched their first win under new boss Neale Fenn on Friday.
“It probably takes a bit of pressure off them because they can go and enjoy it a bit more. Any game I’ve ever played against Cork, including the one this season, they’re always tough games and they’re always right up for it. Obviously there’s a little bit of needle that has been there over the years. It’s a nice place to play football. I’ve always enjoyed going down there to play but we’ll be looking now to dust ourselves down and set the record straight by finishing the league with two wins,” he said.