Prolific Byrne sets himself a new target
AS HE eyes the milestone of 200 League of Ireland goals in the autumn of his career, Bray Wanderers striker Jason Byrne believes his more famous cousin, Republic of Ireland captain Robbie Keane, will likewise continue playing for some time yet.
Keane turns 32 next month and was one of several senior players whose performances were criticised in the wake of Ireland’s disastrous showing at Euro 2012.
But Byrne, named yesterday as the Airtricity/Soccer Writers’ Association of Ireland Player of the Month for May, is convinced Keane has a lot to give yet.
Asked whether Keane will play on, Byrne said: “I don’t think it has even come into his reckoning that he is going to retire. He still has a lot to give. He’s been one of Ireland’s best ever players with his goalscoring record and appearances. I think you’ll see him in a green shirt for another few years.
“I know him and I know that he’s not going to let people get to him like that because he’s strong-minded and things like that (criticism) won’t get to him at all.”
Having had a goal expunged in the wake of Monaghan United’s withdrawal from the league earlier this week, Byrne sits on 190 league goals, second behind Brendan Bradley in the list of all-time scorers.
“I said at the start of the season if I get more than 10 (he has 11), I’d be happy,” said 34-year-old Byrne ahead of Bray’s trip to Drogheda tonight.
“I’ve surpassed that and the way I’m playing now, confidence is up . . . there is no reason why I shouldn’t get to 200.”
Winger Jonathon Kelty (shin) is Bray’s only injury concern, while Drogheda are without suspended midfielder Eric Foley.
Midfield anchor James Chambers may return following an eight-week knee injury lay-off for second in the table St Patrick’s Athletic who host Bohemians at Richmond Park. Captain Owen Heary is back for Bohemians following a hamstring injury, though defender Evan McMillan is out suspended.
Cork City welcome left back Danny Murphy back from suspension as they host Derry City at Turner’s Cross. John Dunleavy is suspended, however, while captain Dan Murray is injured.
Defender Shane McEleney and midfielder Barry Molloy are banned for Derry, who are also without injured captain Kevin Deery and Mark Farren. Defender Stewart Greacen is back fit.
A knee injury keeps top scorer Graham Rusk out of the UCD team that will hope to leapfrog Dundalk at the foot of the table with a victory at the UCD Bowl.
Goalkeeper Ger Barron and Seán Russell are injured, while Danny Ledwith is suspended.
Midfielder Stephen McDonnell is suspended for Dundalk.