Tony stays true to his Donegal roots


Originally from Arranmore - Donegal's largest inhabited island - Tony Boyle has been living and working in the English capital since 1987. He went over to London initially as one of Donegal's legendary 'Tunnel Tigers' and worked on a variety of tunnel jobs for a decade, including seven years on the Channel Tunnel.

For the past 17 years, the Donegal man has worked for Barhale Construction - one of the largest privately-owned infrastructure specialists in the UK, covering the water, transport and energy waste sectors. The company is owned by Galway man Dennis Curran, who's a massive GAA supporter and sponsor.

Tony is also a keen Gael and he derived immense satisfaction from his native county's magnificent runs to the 2014 All-Ireland minor and senior football finals. He is proud to be from Donegal and fully appreciative of what Jim McGuinness has brought to the county as senior team manager:
"Going back to 2010, when they were hammered by Armagh, this is practically the same team apart from Ryan McHugh, Odhran MacNiallais and Paddy McBrearty. It just goes to show what a good manager can do. He has built them up psychologically and instilled self-belief.

"As a Donegal man, it's great over here now to go into Ruislip or into the pubs to watch football. There's a great interest in gaelic football over here. Even before the Sky deal, a lot of the ex-pats would have watched the games on RTE anyway and people from home have always gathered in their homes, in pubs or in Ruislip to watch the football."

Tony's son Eoin lined out for Tir Chonail Gaels up as far as minor level before focussing on rugby and Tony himself used to play for Falcarragh on the Donegal mainland. "There was no gaelic team on the island at the time," he reflects. "We played soccer in the Donegal league with Arranmore United. Myself, Gerry Earley, Hugh Rogers and Patsy McGlanchey set that up and we won the third division, the second division and finished runners-up in the first division in three success years."

The Ghaeltacht man returns home to Ireland for as many football matches as possible. He had a great weekend in Dublin for the 2012 All-Ireland final, when Donegal captured Sam for the second time, and was also back in Clones for the 2013 Ulster final defeat to Monaghan.

"It's hard to believe how far Donegal have come under Jim McGuinness," he comments. "Three Ulster titles and an All-Ireland. You are going out and buying papers and visiting websites to read the stories and look at the pictures and it's amazing to see what is going on with Donegal. Fair play - you really have to hand it to him."

Tony Boyle is operations manager for the southern region with Barhale Construction, which has a turnover of up to £130m. The company employs around 600 people and is currently working on the Thames Tideway Scheme - a super-sewer system running under the River Thames. "We are working on the peripheral tunnels and shafts, doing associated and enabling work," he notes.

Tony's mother and brother still live on Arranmore Island and he loves going back home as much as he can, as indeed do his son and daughter, both of whom were born in London but speak Irish. During the summer, Eoin and his cousin Peader Boyle completed a sponsored five-day cycle from London to Arranmore Island, raising £4,000 for Donegal Down Syndrome and McMillen Cancer Research.

"The islands Gaelic Football tournament was held in Arranmore this summer and we won it for the first time," Tony concludes proudly. "Since 2012, there are more lads than ever going to the mainland to play football."