Jack Byrne joined Football Saturday to discuss his return to the League of Ireland with Shamrock Rovers.
Jack Byrne and Shamrock Rovers have already lost two games this season.
The red-hot favourites for the league were expected to have an easier run of it to start the season, but that's the competitiveness of the League of Ireland this year. Byrne's Shamrock Rovers lost on Friday night against Eoin Doyle's St. Patrick's Athletic. Chris Forrester scored the only goal of the game for the home side.
You can listen to this week's League of Ireland Late Night Live for an update on all this week's action.
When Byrne left Rovers previously for Cyprus, he was the biggest name in Irish soccer. Now that Damien Duff is here, he will share some of that spotlight. But it's not just Duff. The status of the league is growing with widespread upgrades. Young Irish players are staying with clubs longer now and there is an emergence of quality coaches across the league.
Byrne has aspirations of returning to the Ireland squad, so playing in a better league will help him. And it will challenge him.
"I'm enjoying it, yeah. I'm really enjoying it," Byrne said.
"It's good to be back out there getting minutes in the legs. It's been a long time since I played so I've got four games now, five with the Presidents Cup. Couple of 90 minutes. Feeling better. Feeling sharper. But still getting used to my body being back in full flow really."
Byrne's career didn't really start in Cyprus for a variety of reasons. He didn't play much football there so he's still working back into full form at this stage of the season. But he's also desperate to continue to play for Rovers because of his connection with the fans in Tallaght but also the opposition fans.
He told a story on Football Saturday that captured the atmosphere of playing in the league.
"Full houses, packed stadiums, kids, older people...some seven-year-old was leaning over the fence there in Richmond Park. When you're going to take the corners, you've got about a centimeter of a run up, there's some seven-year-old there saying basically 'Get back to Cyprus' but not in that manner.
"I told him I was freezing I wish I could.
"That's what you want. You don't want to be going there and it's easy so you walk away with three points. Or you know nobody cares. The reason why I love playing here and the reason I wanted to come back here was I know the connection I have with the Shamrock Rovers fans. I see the connections towns have, say [for example] when you go down to Sligo.
"I used to love going down to play against Cork because it was like that down there. It was brilliant."
Byrne and Shamrock Rovers will play Bohemians on Friday night.
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