Shels' Byrne praises father for developing his focus on bigger picture
SEAN BYRNE will be the quiet man of the Shelbourne dressing-room in the minutes before Sunday's FAI Cup final showdown with Sligo.
Others will shout and roar to gee themselves up, but the young defender will block those noises out.
In his head, the Dubliner will be visualising success, just one part of the psychological process that he now goes through before big games.
No doubt, old-school sceptics will scoff at such preparation. But then the man who encouraged him to think in those terms hails from that generation.
His father, John, is a well-known ex-League of Ireland man, who played for Home Farm, Bohemians, Sligo and St Patrick's Athletic.
A plumber by trade, he embraced sports psychology late in life and now lectures on the subject in the Institute of Technology in Blanchardstown.
"He is, surprisingly, a very, very clever man," Byrne laughs.
"Even going into the Finn Harps game (where Shels clinched promotion) before I went out he said, 'You just need to know what you have to do, visualise what you have to do, visualise winning, visualise going in after that game being promoted'.
"To be honest, I did visualise all of those things. I visualised us scoring, winning and all the celebrations."
It's just one facet of Byrne's developing character. The other is the educational path he is taking.
After realising that the gym industry didn't really appeal, he enrolled for a course in Addiction Studies in Maynooth with the long-term goal of moving into counselling.
Personally, there are no demons -- in fact, his Type 1 diabetes makes clean living a lifestyle requirement -- but the 22-year-old was keen to embrace a challenge.
"I always had an interest in helping people, I didn't really know which way to go about it," explains Byrne, who will start Sunday's final at left full because of an injury picked up by Lorcan Fitzgerald.
"Then I heard of a person who did the course and they said it was absolutely brilliant.
"She has a job in a youth programme, so she works with young people growing up in bad backgrounds -- she would go in and help them for 15, 20 hours a week, bring them to places, bring them to the cinema, go play football with them in the park," he added.
In every sense, this young man is looking at the bigger picture.