Jason Byrne back on goal trail as he resumes pursuit of record
The 38-year-old is currently 14 goals short of the 235 goals scored by Brendan Bradley
Jason Byrne celebrates scoring a goal for Bohemians. Photograph: Ryan Byrne/Inpho
Jason Byrne admits that his pursuit of Brendan Bradley’s all-time League of Ireland goalscoring record is a big part of the reason he has signed for Cabinteely where the 38 year-old will link up once again with his former boss Pat Devlin for the coming season.
“If it wasn’t for the record I’d have retired five years ago,” jokes the Dubliner who is currently 14 short of the 235 goals scored by Bradley between 1966 and 1986, 181 of them for Finn Harps.
“But no, seriously,” he adds pretty quickly, “it’s still a carrot that’s there dangling in front of me. It’s a target for me to me to aim for and if I can get to it then that would be good for everyone at the club, not just me.”
Byrne, who will turn 39 next month, says he is disappointed with the amount of time he got to play at UCD last year but understands the decisions that manager Collie O’Neill had to make.
It’s a tough business being a manager and Collie didn’t feel that he could give me the amount of game-time that I wanted but I know Devo a long time and I know he believes in me. I don’t know yet how much time I’ll get at Cabinteely but I’m not just going out there to make up the numbers.”
Devlin seems a little unsure too as to just how big a part Byrne, who last finished as the league’s top scorer just over a decade ago, will play but, he says: “I’m not bringing him in not to play. I can’t say at this stage how many games he’ll start or how many he’ll come on in with 20 minutes to go when we are looking to win the game but I’m sure he can still be a big player for us.
“There are other sides to it; we’re a club with 60 teams and who better than Jason to teach younger players how to score than Jason but the main reason I am bringing him in is to score them himself and the record is there so....”
It seems a pretty tall order for the striker to get the number of goals required this year but Byrne doesn’t rule out going again in 2018 if needs be. “We’ll see. I’ll be retired a long time and I feel good so this is the right decision for me now but there’s no point in talking about that now; I’ll take it one season at a time.”
Stephen Dooley, meanwhile, says he is happy to have re-signed for the Cork City. “Maybe last season there was a settling in period and I found myself in and out of the team, which is fair enough,” says the 25 year-old who joined last year from Derry City, “but I am well settled in now and hopefully this year I can kick on and have a better year.”