Abby Moyles. Ryan Byrne/INPHO
in the family

Abby Moyles: The Ulster out-half with a Royal connection

Abby Moyles represented Meath at minor level in Gaelic football before deciding to focus solely on rugby.

GROWING UP WITH the surname Moyles in Meath, it’s a bold move to step away from the GAA, but Ulster out-half Abby Moyles is confident she’s on the right sporting path.

Moyles grew up steeped in the GAA, her uncle Anthony Moyles starring for Meath in the 2000s while there’s also family connections with the Dublin hurlers.

Some of her earliest sporting memories involve cheering on Anthony as he headed off to the big days in Tailteann Park and Croke Park.

“I remember standing outside my nanny’s house decked out in Meath gear, holding flags and cheering as he’s [Anthony] going to games. It was good craic.”

For a while, Moyles followed a similar path, playing for Trim GAA and representing Meath up to minor level. Yet football wasn’t the only sport on her radar growing up, with Moyles also juggling rugby, Camogie and soccer commitments before the oval ball eventually emerged as the frontrunner.

“It was tough, managing it with school and stuff, but then once I kind of hit fifth year, sixth year, I mainly focused on just rugby and Gaelic and cut out the other stuff. I didn’t have time.

ava-ryder-aimee-clarke-abby-moyles-and-kate-flannery Bank of Ireland have announced new five-year extensions of its sponsorships of the four provinces. Dan Sheridan / INPHO Dan Sheridan / INPHO / INPHO

“I liked all of them the same but rugby, I got more of a buzz from it. The football is non-contact, well not really, but I liked that contact element of the game and I liked playing at out-half.

“I just enjoyed it and you kind of become part of a family when you’re on a rugby team, so I liked that aspect of it as well. ”

Since deciding to focus solely on rugby Moyles has been climbing the ladder, with international honours the ambition. Having started off playing with Navan RFC at underage level, Moyles played schools at Blackrock and was on age grade squads at Leinster before an opportunity to move to Ulster arose.

“I just gave it a go, went up and loved it. I was welcomed in and everybody made me feel comfortable so I haven’t looked back,” Moyles says.

“It’s really good. Obviously we got the new pitch last year with Kingspan so hopefully we get to play on that this year. The facilities are class, top-notch gym, everything like that, couldn’t really ask for more.”

Moyles featured during the Celtic Challenge competition in January and is in the extended Ireland squad ahead of the U20 Women’s Six Nations.

Having started out playing at wing and fullback, Moyles has made the switch to out-half, her multi-sport background helping her ease into the position.

“I was kind of wing and fullback at underage and then I went into the Leinster U18s system and they switched me to out-half, so it was a big step, but I kind of fitted in nicely because I liked the position.

“I liked being first receiver, controlling the game and constant talking and all that.

“So it was a work in progress then but now it’s just building my experience in it, getting more gametime under my belt, but I love it.

“The Gaelic definitely [helped]. And I played camogie as well so the hand-eye coordination transferred over. But yeah, the Gaelic in terms of kicking, catching, thinking on your feet, because like rugby it’s a fast-paced game so those skills all transferred over.”

Abby Moyles was speaking as Bank of Ireland announced new five-year extensions of its sponsorships of the four Irish Rugby provinces, reaffirming its long-standing commitment to the game across all levels in Connacht, Leinster, Munster and Ulster. 

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