Former player programme article - George O’Boyle

Posted : 20th June 2020

During this period of enforced football inactivity has provided weekly programme articles on some of our former players.

The series commenced 12 weeks ago with an article on Jim Lemon and has continued over the past 11 weeks with features on Tommy MacDonald, Stephen McKee, Eric Bowyer, Tony Gorman, Lindsay Curry, Damien Curran, Colin McCurdy, Martin McGaughey, Roy Walsh, Frankie Parkes and Warren Feeney senior.

In this week’s article reproduces an article from December 2018 in which the spotlight was focused on former forward George O’Boyle.

by James Kennedy

Two seasons at Linfield, two League Winners medals. That’s the record of former international striker George O’Boyle. “I played for Linfield in 1986/87 and 1988/89 and we won the league in both those seasons, the second season when I was on loan from Bordeaux. And while I was in France in between times, sure didn’t Glentoran win it that year!”

George, who hails from the Shankill Road, first made a name for himself scoring goals at Cairnmartin Secondary School, and this earned him a schoolboy contract with Manchester City aged 14. “I was back and forward to Manchester for a couple of years and then over there permanently when I left school aged 16. The First Team manager was Billy McNeill and I played in the Youth and Reserve teams with some future England internationals like David White, Andy Hinchcliffe and Earl Barrett”.

Sadly, George was released by the Maine Road side and made his way back to Belfast wondering what his next step would be. “I was barely back in Belfast when there was a knock at my door. It was the late Bertie McMinn and Lisburn Distillery manager Roy Welsh, and they offered me regular football and a pair of football boots. I agreed to sign provided they would release me if a big club came in for me, as I still wanted a career in fulltime football. They had some good players - Bertie himself, future internationals Allen McKnight and Anton Rogan, big Marty Quinn – and we won the club’s first trophy in 15 years, the Co. Antrim Shield”.

George’s form in his one season at New Grosvenor did not go unnoticed at Windsor Park, and, aged 18, he signed for another Roy, this time Coyle, in 1986. Having made an immediate impression with top notch performances in a team including legends like Billy Murray and Martin McGaughey, FC Bordeaux came calling. “Moving to France was like a dream come true, and I loved my time over there. I was training twice or three times a day, sometimes with the Academy, but unfortunately this was the days before Bosman and they were restricted to only two foreign players. They had two Yugoslavian internationals so I struggled to get games. Strangely enough, they could play three foreigners in Europe and I got to make a few appearances in the European Cup”.

Lack of game time led to a season-long loan back to Linfield, with a second League winners medal, and when his French adventure was over, George was transferred to Dunfermline Athletic for £250,000. “I had five good seasons with Dunfermline before St Johnstone signed me for £200,000, a fee which was decided by a tribunal. Around this time I also played for my country, making my debut on a tour of America against Colombia”.

A series of injuries, including two cruciate ligament tears and a torn Achilles tendon, meant George struggled for fitness and he eventually signed for Glenavon for a season in 2002, then Ards in 2003. “I was flying in from Scotland to play but the injuries caught up with me and I wasn’t doing myself justice. I signed for a couple of smaller Scottish sides before I hung up my boots and started coaching at Carnoustie”.

In 2010 George returned to Belfast and had little involvement with football. “I needed to work, and I set up my own business cleaning ovens. This took up most of my time, so football, for once, took second place”.

However, he did eventually get back to the game, serving as Assistant Manager at Albert Foundry before he moved, along with Colin McIlwaine, to Lisburn Distillery. “The club has had its struggles in recent years and we are trying to work our way out of the Premier Intermediate League and back towards the Premiership. I try to instil good habits in our players, so hopefully we can add some silverware to the club’s collection of 6 Gibson and 12 Irish Cups. And I would like to be Manager of a Premiership club some day”.
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Co Antrim Shield
Kick-off : 5th October @ 7:30pm
Venue : Windsor Park
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