Ireland and Shamrock Rovers midfielder Jack Byrne has outlined why he felt the need to speak up for the League of Ireland during a meeting with league representatives and Minister for Sport Shane Ross.
Ross met with reps from the 19 League of Ireland clubs as well as the seven Women’s Super League sides at the beginning of the month to discuss the FAI’s current financial situation.
Junior Minister Brendan Griffin was also in attendance via video link as the pair reportedly reassured everyone that the FAI would not be going bankrupt, but when Griffin outlined that the League of Ireland was for young, up and coming players, Byrne decided that he needed to speak up.
The 23-year-old moved to Shamrock Rovers in December 2018 following spells in England and Holland and has since gone on to be named the PFAI Player of the Year and win his first Irish cap in his debut League of Ireland season.
Speaking at the SPAR FAI Primary School 5s launch in Abbotstown on Wednesday, Byrne outlined why he felt the need to interject and stand up for the importance of the league to, not only himself, but to plenty of other players too.
“Just because of what the league had done for me,” he explained.
“Not only me but other players too. The league needs to be strong here and it needs backing because, for the likes of players like me coming back home, it gave me a platform for to go and play football in this country and show everyone what I can do.
“I came back from England last season, won the PFAI player of the year, Dan Mandroiu did the same thing he came back from Brighton and won the young player equivalent.
“A lot of the Irish first team has been up of League of Ireland players so the league needs to be strong and it needs to be strong for players when they do come back that they can bounce back. I just felt as though that point needed to be said.”
Byrne’s tremendous first season in the league has understandably seen him linked with a move away from Tallaght Stadium but the midfielder outlined that he is focused on the task at hand with Rovers.
“I’m not even thinking about that, I’m honestly just thinking about getting as fit as I can.
“The fixture came out and the first game of the season is against Bohs, it excites you, it excites everybody. When that fixture came out I got a good feeling, want to try and win that game.
The SPAR FAI Primary School 5s Programme was launched on Wednesday by current Republic of Ireland footballer, Jack Byrne, and current Republic of Ireland women’s footballer, Amber Barrett. The pair were on hand at St. Patricks National School, Corduff, to provide a coaching masterclass to a number of students who will be competing in the national 5-a-side competition.
School blitzes are open to boys and girls from 4th, 5th and 6th class, and puts emphasis on fun and inclusivity. Register for the SPAR5s by February 14th at www.fai.ie/primary5