Byrne: this one would top lot
Bohs veteran chasing 'biggest achievement'
FIVE league titles, two international caps and a batch of other honours -- not a bad CV to have, but Bohemians striker Jason Byrne reckons that winning the Premier Division title this season would be the biggest achievement of his career.
Since he made his league debut for Bray Wanderers way back in 1998, Byrne has become one of the most decorated players in the domestic game, and he has a sixth league medal in his sights as Bohs can win the championship for the third successive year if they win their next two matches, starting with tonight's game away to Galway United.
That's no easy task as Bohs have failed to beat Galway in their three meetings so far this season, and all the while second-placed Shamrock Rovers are waiting to pounce if Bohs do slip up.
But Byrne maintains that Pat Fenlon's squad have the experience and the nerves needed.
"I've been lucky enough in my career to win a few medals, I played for my country, I had a lot of good times, but I think that winning the league this season would be the biggest achievement in my football career," says Byrne.
"Given where we were in the league table earlier in the season, given some of the results we had, given the whole TNS experience, you could understand if the team had dropped off by now and was out of contention, but we have worked so hard in the last few weeks to get back on top, and to come from behind in the way we did and get back on top of the table, to me that's a major achievement and something to be proud of -- that's if we win the next two matches and the league of course," he added.
"Hopefully we can go on and win some more things, I hope to carry on playing and winning trophies next season.
"If we do win the league this season, that will be six league medals for me so all I need is for Owen Heary to retire so I can close in on his record."
Galway, destined to be in a relegation play-off, are weakened tonight as two of the main tormentors of Bohs this season (midfielder Stephen O'Donnell and striker Karl Sheppard) are missing, that pair netting five of the seven goals scored by Galway against Bohs this term, but Byrne has told his team-mates to concentrate on their own game.
"It doesn't matter who's in their team, Galway are playing for pride, they don't want us coming down to Terryland and getting a handy win, they'll be up for this game," says Byrne.
"And I think we were guilty of that a few times this season, looking at the opponents' team and thinking, 'Oh, he's not playing so that should make it easy for us', so we can't bother about who plays or doesn't play for Galway, we just have to go and win our game," he says.
Aside from last week's Cup defeat to Sligo Rovers, Bohs are one of the form teams of the league, unbeaten in 10 league matches and clean sheets in four of the last five, but one of the main reasons for their revival is the partnership of Byrne up front with Raff Cretaro.
"I enjoy playing up front with Raff, he's younger than me so he can do all the chasing, but I think we work well together," he says.
Bohs have to make changes tonight as Killian Brennan is suspended so Mark Quigley fills in for him, and the fit-again Owen Heary replaces the injured Mark Rossiter.