As with us all, Jason Byrne isn’t getting any younger. And as if the greatest goalscorer of his generation needs a reminder of those advancing years, Cabinteely’s veteran striker turns 39 the day before the 2017 SSE Airtricity League kicks off. Bu
As with us all, Jason Byrne isn’t getting any younger.
And as if the greatest goalscorer of his generation needs a reminder of those advancing years, Cabinteely’s veteran striker turns 39 the day before the 2017 SSE Airtricity League kicks off.
But while the legs may not have the spring or acceleration of yore, the instinct remains sharp as Byrne gives breaking the long-standing all-time goals record one last shot.
Brendan Bradley’s tally, totalled over a 20-year career that ended in 1986, stands at 235 league strikes. Byrne, who began his senior career with Bray Wanderers in 1998, is just 14 behind.
“I still feel 18 in my head!,” quipped Byrne, a cousin of Ireland’s all-time topscorer Robbie Keane.
“I know myself that the legs are not what they used to be. But the head is still there as are the dynamics of the game. The first five yards is always in your head.”
And Byrne has no hesitation in answering just why he’s playing on.
“Obviously, I’m trying to get the record. I probably would have retired a long time ago but for that,” the Tallaght native says unapologetically.
“Even equalling it would be a massive achievement, though it would be great to beat it.
“It would be something that has never been done and people say nobody will ever get close to it.
“It’s within touching distance. It’s going to be tough. I’m fit and available and if I’m not out there I won’t be able to score goals. I just need to get myself out there and do that.
“I’m under no illusions that it will be a tough job, but if I don’t give it a try you’ll never know.
“We’ll give it a good bash. We’ll see where it takes me and if not, well, I’ll just have to call it a day.
“I’m still enjoying it and feel fit enough to give it a go. If I didn’t feel that way I would have called it a day by now.”
The former Republic of Ireland international was disappointed not to have played a little more at UCD last year.
But he’s followed his mentor Pat Devlin to Stradbrook for 2017 with a renewed determination to get more game time… and those goals.
“Devo has believed in me since day one when he gave me my chance in the League of Ireland.
“He still believes in me and that I can get goals, so that instills confidence in me.
“It’s gone full circle. I started in League of Ireland with Devo and hopefully come the end of the season there will be a prize in it for myself.”
And maybe Cabinteely as well.
“There is always a surprise packet every year, but it will be extra tough this year with only one going up,” adds Byrne on Cabo’s promotion aspiration.
“I’m sure Devo will get the best out of the lads as he always has.
“Hopefully we can be the surprise packet and get promotion.”