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Byrne: I can still deliver for Bohs

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Jason Byrne

Jason Byrne

Jason Byrne

THERE'S life in the old dog yet as veteran striker Jason Byrne has signed up for another season of League of Ireland football with Bohemians next term.

Byrne will have celebrated his 37th birthday by the time the 2015 season kicks off in March, and next season will be his 17th in the league. He made his debut back in the 1998/99 campaign and only three other players who were involved that year were still around for the most recent league of Ireland season (Barry Ryan, Ger Doherty and Kevin McHugh).

In fact it's a sign of his advancing age that players who were all opponents when Byrne was making his name with Bray back in '98 had sons competing in the league this year, players like Paul Curran, Paul Byrne, Martin Russell, Paul Osam and Richie Purdy passing on the baton to the next generation.

But the Tallaght man feels he still has something to offer Bohemians and the league. "I wouldn't play on if I didn't think I could still do it, next year may be my last season but as long as the legs are still strong I'm happy to play on as long as someone wants me and thankfully Keith Long wants me at Bohs," Byrne told The Herald.

"I had a decent enough year in the season just gone, I scored nine goals - and should have scored more. But overall I did ok, and hopefully I can nick a few more goals before I hang up the boots.

"I will give it one more year and see how I get on."

But the former Ireland international admits that his long-held aim of beating the all-time League of Ireland scoring record is beyond him.

UNCHALLENGED

Brendan Bradley's career tally of 235 league goals has stood unchallenged since 1986 and Byrne reckons that bridging the 19-goal gap between his current tally and Bradley's record is too much.

"The record is probably beyond me at this stage but I will keep playing, keep scoring and see how close I can get. It's hard to see me getting to 235 now, even though that would be an amazing achievement. The main thing is to keep enjoying it and when my legs are gone I will know it's time to quit."

Byrne was used off the bench for chunks of the season by then manager Owen Heary last term and the former Cardiff City player admits that he won't start every week.

"I'd see that as my role, helping out whenever I can but at 36/37 I won't be aiming for 33 starts, I will do what the manager wants," he says.

"There will be a lot of competition up front next season as we have signed Marc Griffin (Dundalk) and Dean Kelly (Shamrock Rovers), I won't start every game but I will try and contribute off the bench.

"It will be interesting to see how Keith Long does here, I played with Keith at Bray for a while so we know each other."

While Bohs failed to land a trophy last season the year was seen as a relative success as they stayed away from the relegation zone and had decent runs in the FAI Cup (quarter-final) and League Cup (semi-final).

"The aim last season was to finish as high as possible in the league and have a go in the cups, we did our best but fell short but I think we could learn from that and try for a cup run next season, maybe win something," he added.

"And we have some good young players for next season. Adam Evans and Jake Hyland got a few runs in the first team and we will see more of them next year, that's good to see. I think we can have a good season and the young lads will get even better."


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