One of Donegal’s greatest ever athletes, Cyril O’Boyle, was inducted into the Donegal Hall of Fame on Saturday night at the Donegal Athletic Board’s Annual Award night.
The Glenswilly man, who grew up in the Rosses and lived most of his working life in Scotland, was presented with the award on Saturday night at the annual awards in the Finn Valley Centre.
He is the first person honoured with the Donegall Athletics Hall of Fame Award.
And it was fitting that Cyril, who turns 90 later this month, a man of many firsts, became the first recipient of the Hall of Fame award.
He was the first Donegal man to win an Irish Senior and Junior Athletics Championship (1951). He was the first Donegal man to win an Ulster Senior and Junior championship in the one year (1950).
His national trophy haul also includes Ulster (1951) and All-Ireland Senior Mile Championships (1952) and the four mile championship in 1954.
He won numerous races in Scotland during his time working and living in the country and qualified in sixth place for the World Cross-County championship.
However, he never got to run in the championship. He was beaten by six votes to five in the selection process.
It was the same when it came to an Irish vest due to the non recognition of the National Athletic and Cycling Association by the International Athletic Association. Cyril, who was one of the top Irish athletes for the best part of the 1950s, was a member of the NACA, which was a 32 county body and did not recognise the border.
As a consequence of this stance the NACA was not recognised by the International governing body that ran all International events and championships. Up to 90% of Irish athletes back then were members of NACA.
He was born in Belcruit, Kincasslagh, and spent his formative years in the Rosses and was educated at Belcruit National School. The family moved to live in Glenswilly in 1949. Strabane was his first athletic club. There was no organised athletics in Donegal at the time.
Victoria Park AAC in Glasgow and Clydesdale Harriers, on the outskirts of Glasgow, were his clubs during his years in Scotland.
He ran late into his life and in 2001, competing in the the World Masters Championship; he just finished outside the medals in fourth place (over 75 category) in Brisbane, Australia.
He also competed in in the World Masters in Gateshead, England in 1999 and Ricconi in Italy.
Cyril and his wife Noreen (nee Conaghan) live in Glenswilly having moved back to his home place from Scotland in 1969.