Tuesday 22 January 2019

Jason aims for magic number

Jason Byrne
Jason Byrne

Just like the hero in a movie who signs up for the old 'One Last Job' trick, Jason Byrne is back for one more shot, and he says his hunger for more goals, and the chance to make history, has persuaded him to play on in the League of Ireland for yet another season.

Former Ireland cap Byrne celebrates his 39th birthday next month, so many of his team-mates at new club Cabinteely weren't even born when the Tallaght man began his LOI career way back in 1998.

Byrne scored on his debut for Bray Wanderers, carried on scoring to the extent where he is just 14 goals shy of the all-time record of 235 league goals, set by Brendan Bradley 30 years ago.

Few players are likely to get as close as Byrne to that 235-goal tally again and the former Bohemians and Shelbourne man says it's that opportunity to write himself into the history books which drives him on.

"I probably would have retired a few years ago if the record wasn't there to be won," Byrne told the Herald.

"The record is there to be broken and that's my drive and motivation. I won't kill myself over it and I know there will come a time when I have to pack it in.

"I need 14 goals, I know I only scored four last season but I'd hope to get more games in this coming season,.

"The legs feel good and the eye for goal is still there. I wouldn't play on if I didn't feel I could do something, it's something new for me, playing for Cabo. Devo (manager Pat Devlin) has always believed in me, no matter my age, I know he will give me more opportunities this year than I got last year."

With the stress on youth in the LOI, especially with the development of more solid underage structures, few outfield players carry on as far as 39 these days but Byrne was keen to extend his career.

"I didn't want to be the lad sitting in a pub in 10 years' time saying 'I finished up too soon, I'm sorry I didn't carry on for another season or two'. I don't want that to be me, I don't want to have those regrets," says Byrne.

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