He watched the Republic of Ireland for the first time in 1974 at Dalymount Park and Paul Boyle has since gone on to become one of Ireland’s most-capped supporters.
By Chris McNulty in Copenhagen
In the 43 years since, Boyle, a native of Meenaneary in south-west Donegal has missed only a handful of Republic of Ireland away games.
Picture: Paul Boyle with former Republic of Ireland player Kevin Kilbane
He will be among the 2,305 Irish fans in the away end of the Parken Stadium in Copenhagen tomorrow night for the 2018 World Cup qualifier against Denmark.
He’s been at all 23 of Ireland’s games in major tournaments and has seen all the iconic moments in the flesh.
From Ray Houghton in Stuttgart, Ronnie Whelan in Hanover, Packie Bonner in Genoa, Houghton again in New Jersey, Alan McLoughlin in Belfast, Shay Given in Tehran, Robbie Keane in Ibaraki to Robbie Brady in Lille, he’s lived the moments.
“I don’t know how I started,” he laughs now.
“Things just sort of kicked in really. The first two games I saw in Dalymount, we beat Soviet Union 3-0 and Turkey 4-0. Don Givens got all of the seven goals.
“Soon after that, I started going to away games. I love the travelling. I have been to every away game since 1974 or ’75 apart from the wee while I was out of action.”
That was in June 2009. He was given the Last Rites. Folks at home heard the news; Paul Boyle had lost his battle with bowel cancer.
He’d booked to watch Ireland play Bulgaria in Sofia that same week.
It is eight years now since he was given an hour to live in a London hospital. There had been complications with his surgery, he contracted septicaemia, his liver, lungs and brain had all ceased functioning.
He was six weeks in intensive care and, remarkably, made a full recovery.
“I have been at every single qualifier this campaign,” he says proudly.
Paul has been living in Cricklewood in London, where he worked as a carpenter, since 1971. He did return for a spell in 1973 and passed out as a member of An Garda Siochana. But he left after four weeks working. The date is still fresh in his mind: April 30, 1974.
It was the Sunday afternoon that Finn Harps were beating St Patrick’s Athletic in the FAI Cup final. Earlier this year, he was back home to support Harps a couple of times and he’s never far from home, holidaying regularly in Kilcar and also avidly following the travails of the Donegal GAA team.
He hails originally from Crove and was at school in Meenaneary. He is a cousin of Seamus Coleman’s mother Máire and has watched proudly as the Killybegs man has gone on to become the Irish captain.
“I got to know him in the Faroe Islands,” Paul says.
“Seamus is the perfect gentleman. I was at home when there was a night for him in the Blue Haven recently and I have met him a couple of times. He is the nicest kid and it’s great to see him doing so well.”
Paul’s son, Scott McBrearty, is a cousin of Donegal footballer Patrick McBrearty, and won a Donegal U21 title with Kilcar.
Scott is now based in Reykjavik and Paul isn’t long back from the Icelandic capital – where he had his favourite night watching Ireland; a 4-2 win in 1997 when Roy Keane netted twice.
Letterkenny man Malachy Gormley is another who has an equally impressive record of attendance and the two met up again recently in Letterkenny.
Paul was none too pleased with a trip to Moscow in 2002. “People were getting robbed left, right and centre – and that was only in dealing with the policemen!”
Would he go back to Russia should Ireland qualify for the World Cup?
“God save us, I would surely.”