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Jack Byrne: Shamrock Rovers’ key man on reaching his levels again after leaving Cyprus

Jack Byrne has been one of the stars of the League of Ireland season.

Shamrock Rovers star Jack Byrne has once again impressed in the League of Ireland season, after making his return to the league following a difficult spell in Cyprus last year.

But speaking at the launch of Aviva’s 2022 #LaceUpWithPride campaign, Byrne revealed that he has more levels to go up to reach his previous heights at the Hoops.

Departing at the end of the 2020 season, Byrne was one of the best players in the country, but injuries have stunted his growth in recent times.

“I still feel I am nowhere near I think I can get to..”

Although, he is beginning to show glimpses of what he is capable of as Rovers raced clear at the top of the table prior to the mid-season break.

“I’m just happy to be back out there,” he explains. “I had an injury last year and missed a lot of football. I was in between windows moving and it slowed me down.

“I should have been back after 2/3 months, but it ended up being a lot longer because I couldn’t go into a club and play. I was just sitting around until January.

“That was more disappointing than anything because I missed an awful lot of football at a time I was playing well. I was feeling good when I had to get that operation, and it just prolonged.

“But it is good to be back. I still feel I am nowhere near I think I can get to. That’s not for people to say I played well, scored goals or grabbed assists, I know myself in my own head of my own levels and where I can get to.

“I certainly haven’t been at them levels even if I have been doing well and maybe in my own expectation I think I should be doing things I was doing before when I had 20/30/40 games under my belt.

“I haven’t got that base under my belt with that amount of games. I’m just building that up now and trying to kick on now. That’s it really. I have that base in my legs now and with Europe and the big games I’ll be hoping to kick on.”

Learning from the past.

In 2019, Rovers found themselves clear at the top just before the mid-season break, but were found out as the season progressed. Dundalk ended up romping home to claim another league crown on that occasion.

But the Hoops fought back in 2020 to secure a league title, and backed it up in 2021 without Byrne.

Granted, Rovers are a far stronger side than they were in 2019 now, but it is those experiences that Byrne has been able to learn from in this year’s title chase.

Jack Byrne next move

“I don’t think we were as strong as we are now in 2019,” he explains. “It was a new group and we didn’t have that big win that we have now or even the season after.

“But it was just one game at a time. It helps having that experience of players in your team that have won leagues and re-iterate that around the squad.

“I think it helps now that the manager has won two leagues, and the coaching staff. It helps because I don’t think we are as anxious as we were in 2019, blowing it up in June really.”

Jack Byrne.

Byrne has no game this week, and is unavailable to play for Ireland on the international stage due to an injury sustained prior to the mid-season break.

In the meantime, he has been championing inclusivity in football, heaping praise on Blackpool’s Jake Daniels.

jake daniels

Daniels became the first active professional footballer to come out as openly gay in the UK since the 1990s last month, and Byrne is pleased that football is beginning to move on from its dark past.

“I feel as if players, and rightly so, feel that they can be the themselves,” he added. “We’re seeing that nowadays and even if there is abuse in the stands directed at players it is pointed out and dealt with.

“We find it less and less coming into football grounds and football clubs. So it’s a credit to him coming out and being himself.

“But it’s very rare being in a dressing room with 30 lads and everyone is the same. There are always lads coming from different walks of life and most of the time in the dressing room it’s acceptable to be who you are.

“Certainly, the way the world is at the moment. It’s going that way that people feel comfortable to come out and express themselves.”

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