Thursday 27 November 2014

Doolin backs red-hot Byrne to spearhead Euro finals bid

John Fallon

Published 30/05/2014 | 02:30

Celtic target Sam Byrne celebrates after scoring Ireland's second goal against Iceland in Wednesday's European U-19 Championship qualifier. Photo: Matt Browne / SPORTSFILE
Celtic target Sam Byrne celebrates after scoring Ireland's second goal against Iceland in Wednesday's European U-19 Championship qualifier. Photo: Matt Browne / SPORTSFILE

Paul Doolin has backed striker Sam Byrne to respond to his Manchester United release by firing Ireland to the finals of U-19 European Championship.

Byrne scored both goals in Wednesday's 2-1 opening elite qualification victory against Iceland that set up Ireland nicely for tonight's meeting with Turkey at Tallaght Stadium (7.00pm).

His release by United after three years at the club initially impacted on 18-year-old Byrne, according to Doolin, but he has found his rhythm again.

"In fairness, I think the last few games Sam maybe wasn't himself because he has left the biggest club in the world," explained the manager.

"But I spoke to him and I said to him about doing the right things. He certainly looked not a bad player against Iceland.

RECORD

"Sam has a great record for the U-19s, scoring 10 goals over the last two seasons. Most of those were from last season when he was giving away a year."

Already a few clubs, including Celtic and Everton, have expressed their interest in recruiting Byrne, who spent the second half of last season on loan at Carlisle United under the tutelage of former Ireland international Graham Kavanagh.

Helping Ireland reach the UEFA finals in July would boost his profile even further.

"The three points were the main thing against Iceland and the two goals were a plus, so it was a good night," said Byrne.

"We know we have a chance of qualifying now and playing our three games at home is a big plus."

On his exit from United, Co Kildare native Byrne said: "It is hard to leave a club like United. It's all I have been used to for the last three years but hopefully I can find a new club.

"Though it didn't happen for me at United, I'm a better player for having been there."

Irish Independent

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