Jack Byrne is a Shamrock Rovers player once again after signing a two-year deal with the champions.
The Hoops confirmed the news this morning with a short social media video with Byrne stating: “I’m back.”
Tonight’s game at home to Drogheda United is a guaranteed celebration for the Hoops, who will be formally presented with the Premier Division trophy, which they have won for the second successive season in front of what’s expected to be a sell-out crowd.
There will be some emotion in the air as ex-Ireland man Joey O’Brien lines out for the last time, not just as a Hoops player but in his playing career, as he focuses on life as a coach with Damien Duff’s Shelbourne next season. “My last training session as a professional,” joked O’Brien on his way into Rovers’ training ground yesterday.
But Rovers have got the Byrne deal over the line after a disappointing spell in Cyprus with APOEL. Byrne had offers from other clubs in Ireland, along with interest in the UK and USA. However, a return to Dublin and Rovers, where he had the most fruitful stint in a much-travelled career, appealed, and he will be unveiled as a new signing before the Hoops supporters tonight.
“He could play in any team, adding someone of Jack’s quality would be brilliant,” manager Stephen Bradley yesterday.
While confirming that Alan Mannus had signed up for one more season, Bradley said he was sorry to see O’Brien leave and join Dublin foes Shels but wished him well after a success-laden spell with Rovers.
“I fully expected Joey to stay for next year. We wanted him to stay, but he feels now is the right time to take that next step and it’s going to be strange not having him around. He’s been immense for us,” added Bradley, who predicted that O’Brien would one day return as Rovers manager.
Meanwhile, Rovers’ participation in the cross-border competition, the Unite The Union Cup, is uncertain. The Hoops say they have had no information from tournament organisers on details.
The winners of a semi-final between the top two in the Republic (Rovers and St Patrick’s Athletic) and the victors in a similar battle in the Irish League (Linfield and Coleraine) are due to play in the final at Lansdowne Road on December 5.
However, no date has been set for the Pat’s/Rovers semi. “I genuinely don’t know. We’ve no game. Our players are off now from Monday because we’ve heard nothing,” Bradley said.