'This is why I was out of the team for Rangers' - Hibs forward Martin Boyle opens up on off-field scare after downing Aberdeen

After a testing time on the pitch and a horrendous time off it, Martin Boyle has reason to smile again.

Martin Boyle celebrates his second goal in Hibs' 2-0 win over Aberdeen on Saturday (Photo by Ross Parker / SNS Group)
Martin Boyle celebrates his second goal in Hibs' 2-0 win over Aberdeen on Saturday (Photo by Ross Parker / SNS Group)

Netting a double to give Hibs their 2-0 win over Aberdeen and extend their lead over the Pittodrie side to five points, he was also able to lift family spirits.

The disappointment of the recent Betfred Cup semi-final defeat was acute but it was put into perspective for Boyle.

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“My father fell unwell which was a shock and I went in to see [manager Jack Ross] and he has been brand new and allowed me to have a day off training. I then came back and had to put it to the back of my mind. That is why I was out of the team for Rangers but I know that he would kill me if I wasn’t playing so, thankfully, I have managed to pick up and I am just putting in a shift at the moment. Hopefully, that can continue.

Martin Boyle beats Aberdeen goalkeeper Joe Lewis to put Hibs 2-0 up. (Photo by Mark Scates / SNS Group)

“It is tough but I felt the best place for me was to come into training and not just stay at home and pace about the house. But, at the same time, trying to juggle football with the off-field issues has obviously been hard. The club have been brilliant, and my wife, and I have my daughter’s company to help but, at the same time, I know my father would kill me if I allowed it to affect my performances on the pitch and, thankfully he has come through this bad spell and hopefully he is on the mend.”

Recuperating from a stroke, his dad Graeme has been watching his son’s exploits on tv and, with four goals and three wins from the past three games, they have proved more uplifting than Hallmark’s finest greetings card.

“I always phone him after the games and he texts me. He is chuffed at the moment and I have been able to see him in these tough times which is good but I am happy to be out there doing my business and glad he is on the mend.

“It has been a good week. I’ve hit a bit of form which has been good. I have been a bit patchy this season...so, to pick up and help my team-mates as much as I can is good.”

It is payback for the support they have offered him during a tough time.

“My team-mates know all about it and have been there for me. Thankfully he is coming through it.

“Usually the boys look to me to be the clown in the dressing room so it was good to see the other side of them for once. We actually do have some jokers in there!

“It was good. They all helped pick me up and I now feel I’m back to myself. I’m getting back to my best, which is good.”

That could be said about several of the Leith squad. The wins against Dundee United and St Mirren lifted morale but it was the performance as well as the outcome that elevated Saturday’s triumph over their Pittodrie rivals.

On a day when play was fairly even, it was Hibs who were the more incisive in possession and the more defiant in defence.

Against a team they tend to struggle against and who had recorded two wins out of two in the previous head to heads this term, there were even opportunities for the home side to ensure a more empathic scoreline. A couple of them fell to Boyle but, like his team-mate Chris Cadden, he was foiled by the visiting goalkeeper Joe Lewis.

“Yeah, I could have had four, maybe,” admitted the Aussie international striker. “But I’m happy with one and two is a bonus. There have been multiple times this season when I could have had three but I have been putting in a shift and, look, Joe is a top goalie and a big boy so I have to be happy. I am happy.”

Of the two he did score, the first came in the 27th minute from the penalty spot after Jamie Murphy had been clipped by Connor McLennan.

The second came as Hibs played to their counter-attacking strengths. Just on the pitch, substitute Lewis Stevenson played a ball in behind the Aberdeen rearguard, Boyle who had been astute in beating offside and getting beyond the defence, once again slipped the leash and was able to send an angled drive beyond Lewis and into the far corner of his goal.

If they maintain their grip on third place and finish that high in the league for the first time in 16 years, Europe awaits. With competition for places in the starting line-up heightened in recent weeks and such lofty incentives on offer, Boyle says it is up to the players to deliver.

“We know what is at stake at the end of this season and we want European football. At the same time we also had an opportunity to win a trophy and that wasn’t given to us and we didn’t show up on the day and we got punished.

“The semi-finals weren’t good enough and we had to come out in this [game against Aberdeen] and show that we have a fighting spirit in this team and give the fans what they deserve.

“We know that we have the capability to finish [third] but we need to earn the right.

“There are still some massive games and I'm sure there will be twists and turns to come. We have a big game next week [Ross County]. They turned us over here last month so we have a full week to prepare and get ready for it.”

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