One of the most talented and technical players in the SSE Airtricity League. Shamrock Rovers midfielder Jack Byrne has put a rough few years of bad luck behind him to become the player that he is now. Numerous spells at clubs across the water along with a season in Holland but it’s back home in Dublin where he has flourished.
Having made the journey over to the UK at the age of 14 like so many other young Irish kids have. Manchester City appeared to be the right club at the right time for Jack Byrne. The takeover had been completed a few years previous and the current Ireland international began training in a perfect and ideal environment. He impressed in the UEFA Youth League, scoring six times in eight games whilst being managed by Arsenal legend Patrick Vieira.
Naturally enough, Jack was going to struggle to break through to the first team so he decided to go out on loan. His first spell out in Holland with Cambuur FC was probably the best out of all the clubs he’d eventually go to. He really flourished in the Dutch style football, making 27 appearances. Gaining vital first-team experience at the age of a 19, things were looking good.
However, what followed the next year with Blackburn was a bit of a disaster. Having been promised lots of minutes on the pitch by manager Eoin Coyle. He failed to get a real look in. Blackburn struggled and reverted to a 4-2-2 formation. This was never going to suit the Dubliner’s game. It was an unfortunate move but these things happen in football. Jack was determined to bounce back.
He decided to join Wigan who were in the bottom three at the time. The new manager Warren Joyce was looking to develop young talent and Jack felt he’d get lots of opportunities. It was about a month before he fit and ready to play. But as we know, football is a mad game. It turned out the manager had been sacked the day before he was set to make his debut. Another kick in the back. Before you know it, Wigan had been relegated with Byrne making just two appearances. Once again, the Ballybough man had to move on with Wigan clearing stock for life in a lower division.
It was Oldham Athletic who were next up, a club that was situated around the Manchester area so it wasn’t too far from where he lived. It turned out to be a solid 6 months until January when he signed permanently after being only brought in on loan. Over the season as a whole, he fired home 8 goals. He also picked up nine assists in the 44 games he played. The midfielder ended up being part of unfortunately another relegated side. League 2 didn’t appeal to him at all so he embarked on another new adventure.
He went away from England to up north in Scotland. When Kilmarnock came knocking, he couldn’t wait to get working under one of Scotland’s best managers in Steve Clarke. Kilmarnock’s team was outstanding that season as they finished 4th. Jack struggled to force a breakthrough into the team. He played just 5 matches with all appearances coming off the bench. But he has still openly praised Clark as a great person to work under.
After so many different clubs and so many unfortunate situations. The creative midfielder thought of nothing better but to come home back to Ireland. He had a productive conversation with Shamrock Rovers manager Stephen Bradley and before you know it, Jack signed for Ireland’s biggest club.
He may not have known much about the standard of the League of Ireland at the time but he certainly does now. Game by game, you could notice improvements in his game. One of the reasons he had signed for the South Dublin side was the style of play. Anybody who’s had the privilege to see Rovers in the flesh knows they play some cracking football. Jack was a key part and this is thanks to Bradley who has given him the license to get on the ball and express himself, something not seen enough in Irish football. Thankfully times are changing now tho.
It definitely has taken time for Byrne to get used to playing week in week out but it’s something he’s always wanted and needed. So far, he’s made 41 domestic appearances, scoring 11 goals. He’s also showed up on the big occasions for Rovers. I think of that night in Tallaght when they defeated Brann in the Europa League Qualifiers. Jack was instrumental with a beautiful turn and finish for one of his team’s goals. Even most recently as February 29th, when he netted home the winner against the champions Dundalk. He’s just a savage player and we’re blessed to have a man of his quality on these shores.
It was no surprise to see him called up to the Ireland squad when he was leading the Hoops midfield consistently. In the couple of games, he has played for his country. He hasn’t been afraid to get on the ball. Hopefully, we can see more of what we saw against New Zealand and Bulgaria with Kenny in charge.
Overall, the 24-year-old has had a whirlwind career so far. A player who was so highly thought of in his youth. It has taken him a while to find the right team to suit his style of play and everything. But this a player who has so much more to give. Bigger and better things are bound to follow for the Shamrock Rovers man.