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Jack Byrne scoops top soccer writers' award

The award completes an outstanding 2020 for the Rovers’ attacker.

Image: Morgan Treacy/INPHO

SHAMROCK ROVERS’ JACK Byrne outstanding 2020 has been further recognised, as he has been voted the SSE Airtricity/Soccer Writers Association of Ireland Personality of the Year. Byrne was also voted the PFAI Player of the Year.

The award was voted on my members of the Irish football media, with Byrne winning ahead of his manager Stephen Bradley in second place, and Finn Harps’ boss Ollie Horgan in third. 

Former Dundalk manager Vinny Perth was last year’s winner. 

“It’s been a strange year but in many ways it’s been a great year, and in many ways it’s been one of my best football years so far, so I’m really happy”, said Byrne. 

Along with winning the Premier Division title with Rovers in an unbeaten season, Byrne also became the first domestic player to play a senior competitive international for Ireland since 1985 when he came off the bench away to Wales in the Nations League last month. 

“The last two years I’ve been in nearly every squad, bar one or two, and it’s been a dream. That’s what you want to do growing up, it’s the pinnacle to play for your country. I’m fortunate that I’ve played four times in two years, and I don’t want it to be just four. I want to kick on and play many more times, but that’s not up to me. I can only control what’s in my control, and that’s to go out and play well, stay fit, hopefully, and try and kick on and get into more squads. 

“I have to thank Mick as well, obviously Mick gave me my first cap, and Stephen gave me my first competitive cap. When I saw the stat after the game and that it’s been 35 years, I couldn’t believe it. It’s not happened on a regular basis and it’s something I’m really proud of, and my family told me how proud they were when it happened. It was a special moment and I have to thank the boss for giving me the opportunity.” 

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His jerseys from those games have pride of place. “I keep the ones that have good meaning to me. They are all around the house. I give some of them to family and friends so they can put them in their house, but the two – my debut and first competitive appearance – they are up in my Ma’s.”

Byrne, meanwhile, was tight-lipped on his future when presented virtually with the awards.

“I don’t know, and that’s the God’s honest truth. I’m away now for a week, I’m taking a week or 10 days off and get all the options on the table and sit down. I won’t exclude Shamrock Rovers, of course I won’t, as they’ve been so good to me over the last two years. I’ll sit down with my family and know everything that’s on the table, I’ll make a decision that’s best for me, my family, and my football.” 

Elsewhere, Byrne’s Rovers team-mate Alan Mannus was voted Goalkeeper of the Year, while Dundalk FC won Website of the Year with Darren Crawley of the same club winning Press Officer of the Year. 

Conan Byrne, meanwhile, was presented with the Special Merit award, arned for several acts of charity and kindness which included raising more than €13,000 for the Irish Cancer Society in a marathon walk to every League of Ireland ground in Dublin, and raising spirits across the country by arranging conversations between a host of League of Ireland personalities and their supporters. 

About the author:

Gavin Cooney

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