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Dublin: 12°C Friday 23 April 2021

Irish midfielder Byrne ready for new challenge back home after leaving League One club

The 31-year-old has returned to Dublin after 14 years in the UK.

Mark Byrne in action for Gillingham earlier this season.
Mark Byrne in action for Gillingham earlier this season.
Image: Barrington Coombs

MARK BYRNE HAS announced that his four years at League One side Gillingham have come to an end. 

The 31-year-old midfielder has been sidelined since undergoing knee surgery on an anterior cruciate ligament (ACL) injury back in December. 

Byrne, who has made 157 appearances for the Gills and was named the club’s Player of the Year in 2017/18, has continued his rehabilitation throughout the Covid-19 pandemic. 

With his deal set to expire this summer, manager Steve Evans offered the Tallaght native the chance to link up with the squad for pre-season to “prove his match fitness levels and earn a contract”. 

However, if he was to pick up an injury while training as a free agent it would leave him in a vulnerable position. 

Instead, Byrne has opted to end his 14-year career in British football and return home to Dublin with his family to work and find a new club. 

“I’ve decided I won’t be returning for pre-season,” Byrne wrote on Twitter. “I was disappointed with how things went after my injury but before that I really enjoyed my time at Gills.

“I want to thank the players and the staff I’ve worked with for the last four years at the club. I have made some great friends. 

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“A big thank you goes out to the fans. You lot have been brilliant to me the last four years. I gave it my all every week and think you guys knew that. 

“I wish the gaffer and the lads all the best for the season ahead. 

But now, after 14 years of football in the UK, with my knee almost ready, it’s time for a new challenge at home in Ireland.” 

Byrne joined Nottingham Forest from Crumlin United in 2007, and went on to enjoy spells at Barnet and Newport County before signing for Gillingham four years ago. 

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Ben Blake

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