Saturday 21 April 2018

Luke Byrne wary from bitter experience

Shamrock Rovers' Luke Byrne. Photo: Sportsfile
Shamrock Rovers' Luke Byrne. Photo: Sportsfile
Aidan Fitzmaurice

Aidan Fitzmaurice

Last week's win in Iceland was a case of redemption for some of the Shamrock Rovers party: and for the club overall, next Thursday's Europa League first round, second leg tie at home to Stjarnan is a chance to get a foothold back on the European stage after some bleak years.

The Hoops enjoyed Thursday's 1-0 win away to Stjarnan, courtesy of Gary Shaw's first-half goal, but for left-back Luke Byrne, it was especially pleasing to come home from Iceland with a smile, not a grimace on his face.

Back in 2012 Byrne (23) made his European debut, with Bohemians, but it was not a happy time as the Gypsies, despite being 1-0 up on aggregate early in the second leg away from home against Thor Akureyri, somehow managed to lose 5-1 to an Icelandic second-tier side.

"The last time I was in Iceland it didn't go well, it was a bad night for the league as we didn't represent the league very well, so last Thursday was a lot more enjoyable," says Byrne, current team-mate Roberto Lopes also part of that Bohs squad.

"Now we can't get too carried away, it's only half-time in the tie but we showed in Iceland that we were the better team and we'd be confident of taking them in Tallaght. You'd expect Stjarnan to up their game in the second leg so we have to be professional, we have to manage the game and play like it's 0-0.

"They can play better but so can we, but playing on a grass surface, on the bigger pitch in Tallaght on Thursday, we can expose them."

"Europe hasn't been great for me," he continues. "I had that bad defeat with Bohs, two years ago I played with Rovers when we beat a team from Luxembourg (Progrès Niederkorn) but then lost to a good Norwegian side (Odds BK), and last year was disappointing as we went out to a team who we were better than.

"Not many players in this league get to play consistently in Europe so we, as a club, need to be there, and doing well, in Europe every season."

Before Europe, the Hoops are in league action today, away to Sligo Rovers. "The league is our bread and butter, to be back in Europe next year we have to finish in the top three so the focus has to be on three points in Sligo," added Byrne.

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