Ex-Man City youth Jack Byrne agrees deal to join Shamrock Rovers
JACK BYRNE has agreed a deal to join Shamrock Rovers ahead of the 2019 League of Ireland season.
The 22-year-old is coming home in a bid to kickstart his career after a frustrating spell in Scotland with Kilmarnock where he struggled to get first team football.
An agreement has been reached to end his time with the surprise Scottish Premier League leaders, thus freeing Byrne up to return to his native Dublin and sign for the Hoops.
Confirming the news today Byrne said: ""I'm absolutely buzzing to get it over and done with now. It's been brewing for a few weeks and I'm buzzing to be here. I had a chat with Stephen Bradley a couple of weeks ago and it was something that I wanted to do and I felt really excited after speaking to the staff at the club and seeing the facilities that Rovers have.
"I played a couple of times for Kilmarnock this year coming off the bench, it's frustrating when you're doing everything you can to get into a team. They were getting good results and it was hard to get a start. I took the decision to come home and it's the best thing for me.
"When the opportunity came to sign for Shamrock Rovers I snapped the hand off. I like to play in the middle and to be on the ball wherever that may be. We've spoken briefly about a position for me to play in and I think it suits both parties.
"The manager and his staff are building a strong squad and I’m very hungry to do well for the group. The League of Ireland is a very tough league; Dundalk and Cork in particular have been very strong over the past few seasons. My aim is to work hard and get into the team first and foremost. I want to help the team push on so that we can compete for trophies and I can’t wait to get going."
Speaking about the capture of Byrne’s signature, the Hoops’ Head Coach Stephen Bradley said: "It's going to be a very good signing for us. Jack has an unbelievable amount of ability. He's a player who had three or four offers in England and financially they were a lot more rewarding for Jack to go there.
"I think it shows what sort of mindset he has and the hunger he has to show people how good he is again. And remind people that he's only 22, not in his late 30s, he's a young man with a lot of ability.
"We're delighted he's seen the next step in his career here and he wants to settle down and play his football again. He did train with us before but that was just for Jack to keep fit during the period of the season that he was off.
"There were no discussions about signing back then. This time I got word that he was going to leave Kilmarnock and I knew he had offers in England. I just had to make contact and put our case to Jack and see if it fitted him.
"He's come and had a look and I'm delighted he's chosen here to play, to show everyone how good he is and the reason why he got called up to the Ireland squad a couple of years back. We believe that Jack has the ability to go and do that again.
"He can do everything. He's so creative; he sees the game very quickly and he's a very clever footballer. He makes things happen in possession and he'll add goals to our game by scoring and creating. I don't think you can have too many of those in your team.
"It's key that Jack can play in four or five different positions and he's different to what we have right now in the team. He can play wide, behind the front man, as a team midfielder, anywhere in the attacking third of the pitch really. That area was something we wanted to strengthen.
"I've watched him all the way back in his Manchester City days, at Oldham, Holland and Ireland youths. He's a top player, he just needs a platform, a stage to settle down and go back and enjoy his football. We believe that people will see the best of Jack in the next couple of years with us."
Byrne needs to get back playing regularly again after a challenging 2018. He was part of the Oldham team that was relegated from League One and his contract was terminated after he was frozen out of their pre-season preparations - with manager Frankie Bunn stating it was due to disciplinary reasons.
The ex-Man City youth subsequently said that his conscience was clear but indicated that he wasn't able to speak further on the matter.
Byrne was tipped for big things in his youth when he left St Kevin's Boys to join Man City and he starred in a loan spell with Dutch side Cambuur in the 2015/16 campaign. He also trained with the Ireland senior squad during that period and harboured ambitions of going to the Euros in France.
But a subsequent loan to Blackburn didn't work out and he then joined Wigan after officially leaving City. That stint was short lived and he went from there to an up and down year with Oldham.
Byrne has made just five substitute appearances for Kilmarnock, with Irish duo Gary Dicker and Alan Power ahead of the skilful playmaker in the pecking order.
A statement from Kilmarnock today read: "Kilmarnock Football Club has mutually agreed to terminate the contract of Jack Byrne with immediate effect due to personal and family reasons and his desire to return to Ireland."