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Jack Byrne: 'I made a pass and felt my stomach rip. I didn't know what was going on’

Jack Byrne opens up on some of the injury woe that has blighted his season as Shamrock Rovers continue European journey.

Shamrock Rovers' playmaker Jack Byrne.
Shamrock Rovers' playmaker Jack Byrne.
Image: Evan Treacy/INPHO

Updated Oct 6th 2022, 8:35 AM

JACK BYRNE DOES his best to try and put his own injury problems this season into perspective.

“Yeah, it’s disheartening and frustrating but it’s not something I’m embarrassed by because I still feel fortunate. There are lads way worse off than me, lads with absolutely no luck,” he says.

“There are lads I’ve played with who have been robbed of their careers because of injuries.”

The day before travelling to Norway for Shamrock Rovers’ Europa Conference League clash with Molde, Byrne was in UCD using some of the facilities on campus to aid his recovery between training, as well as his general body management.

It’s an arrangement that has been in place following a troublesome few months.

A calf niggle that turned into a grade two tear back in May saw the playmaker ruled out until mid July. There was shockwave treatment to try and break the tissue down around the muscle, but a recovery that had been estimated to take four weeks stretched further into the summer.

jack-byrne Jack Byrne in action. Source: Ryan Byrne/INPHO

Byrne then travelled to Malta for the second leg of Rovers’ Champions League first-round qualifier with Hibernians in mid July. With a 3-0 lead from the meeting in Tallaght this felt like the ideal time to ease back into action.

“We went over, you’re thinking you’re good, thinking you’re ready to go again and then I made a pass in training and felt my stomach rip. I didn’t know what was going on,” he recalls.

Ludogorets were drawn in the next round and Byrne was an unused substitute for the first leg away in Bulgaria. “We had a scan and it showed that I’d torn a muscle above the groin in my stomach. That’s a nightmare.

“Sometimes when you know you’ve done something bad you just know,” he continues. “When it’s a niggle and you feel like you can get through it ok, you know you can play through that pain barrier.

But sometimes you have to accept that you’ve hurt yourself and take the step back to recover because the last thing you want is to do the team an injustice, especially when there are so many big games for the club.

“But I knew this wasn’t a niggle or one of those when you try get on with it. I couldn’t run, I couldn’t sprint.

“The most frustrating thing is wanting to get back to playing at the level where you feel you can affect the game. You’re chasing form when coming back from injury.”

Byrne has started eight of the last nine games and, while his pin-point assist for Dylan Watt away to Sligo Rovers at the weekend was an indication to some that he is nearing his best, the 26-year-old insists he is still getting up to speed.

“I feel a couple of weeks away, but do you have a couple of weeks? That’s the nature of where we are in the season.

“It’s important we all show up and do all we can for the club. Everyone is trying to step up now and do what they can because it’s such an important time.

“The young boys – Aidomo [Emakhu], Justin [Ferizaj] and Gideon [Gideon Tetteh] – they have shown they can step up too.”

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jack-byrne-and-sven-kums Jack Byrne and Sven Kums of Gent. Source: Dave Winter/INPHO

A win in Molde will take Rovers off the foot of Group F and also go some way to banish the ghosts of the 3-0 defeat to Gent in Belgium last month.

“We want to have a go and get results. We need to do better away from home. We know that,” Byrne adds, acknowledging how they’ve lost three, won one and drawn one of their five away ties between Champions League, Europa League and Conference League this term.

“The information the manager has given us has always been spot on. We have a manager and coaching staff that is capable of competing at European level, so as players we need to show that we are capable as well.

I think we have shown it at times, we need to do better away from home and this is where we want to be to showcase our talents.”

The spotlight fell on Daniel Cleary following his slip in the penalty box during that sobering loss in Belgium, the centre back’s error having received a short kick out leading to the home side’s second goal, but Byrne is adamant Rovers won’t change tack.

“The manager was brilliant in that situation, he took the pressure off us and Dan straightaway,” Byrne explains.

“When you play against good teams like that you have to keep the ball, you can’t give it back to them. The manager doesn’t have a problem if you make a mistake when you’re doing what he has been telling us.

“He gives us that freedom to express ourselves and gives us responsibility to play. That defines the way we play and we will continue to do it that way.”

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