Longford's Byrne eyes the big prize as he steps up recovery from his latest long-term injury setback

Fri, Apr 24 2020

Longford Town star Dean Byrne has had more than his fair share of injury misfortune since beginning his League of Ireland career in 2018.

Byrne suffered a potential season-ending injury after De Town’s opening night win of the season over Shamrock Rovers II.

The injury was his second long-term setback – with his first coming in 2018 at Stradbrook against Cabinteely that left him on the side-lines for the latter half of the said year.

However, his recovery this time round is motoring on quicker than expected – with the Dubliner in line to make his starting line-up return at the resumption of play whenever that may be.

“The recovery itself is going very well”, the 24-year-old told extratime.ie.

“It’s going smoothly at the minute. The isolation and lockdown is helping the mind because I know everyone is in the same boat as me.

“It’s allowing me time to not be putting pressure on my own head to get back playing and I’m not watching the lads from the stand week in week out.

“If people were going about their daily lives around me it would’ve been tougher,” he adds.

“Everyone who is around me at the minute, my family, my girlfriend and my girlfriend’s ma have been brilliant to me.

“They’re assuring me I will get back to what I was doing and what I made my name from in the last year or so.”  

Given the current circumstances, the 2019 PFAI First Division Player of the Year nominee has been doing much of his rehabilitation work solo – while also being checked up on by those who operated on him.

“I’m doing the recovery solo at the minute,” he adds.

“I got a plan from the Beacon Hospital who were brilliant to me. They calmed my nerves so much because I heard so many different things about what an operation could do on a broken ankle.

“I was told it would change my style completely which I didn’t want and then I had others saying I needed the operation to get back to where I was at.

“I had the operation and the physio from the Beacon has been checking in with me constantly doing the basics like learning how to walk again.”

But this injury was not the first long-term setback Byrne has endured. In June 2018, he suffered a similar injury that threatened his very career.

“Pain wise it (the current injury) was like what I got against Cabinteely in 2018, but the break was something I would never wish on anyone.

“It was excruciating pain in the first two weeks, I couldn’t sleep – it was really tough. It was tough on the mind especially with it being my second long-term injury and after doing so well last year.

“I was ready to kick on again, but everything happens for a reason, so it gives me another chance to come back and prove myself again.”

Longford Town enjoyed a good start to the season – winning their opening two league games, and Byrne is hopeful that they can kick on again when the action resumes.

“I think it was our last pre-season game against Cork City where we lost two-nil, but we all looked around at each other and thought we can do special things this year.

“Daire (Doyle) signed the players for each specific position and he went into a lot of detail to me about the players he was signing.

“He told me exactly who he was signing, and I signed back because of the plan he had. We had a great belief that we would win the league with the squad we have, and we’ll also have that when we come back.

“We believe we have not only the strongest eleven, but the strongest squad. Each player has a strong competitor for his position.

“We are obviously gutted that its off at the minute, but the lads are keeping fit. We’ll be ready to go as soon as it starts back again.”