Karl Byrne: My ambition is to play in the Football League

You played for Cabinteely FC. How do you look back on your time at the club and do you have any highlights or memories?

I started playing football since I was about 4 or 5 its been my dream to become a professional footballer all my life. Growing up in Dublin I played all the way through in the Dublin leagues I was in the representative teams for Dublin. Then at 15 I got seriously ill and i burst my appendix and twisted my bowel I was really seriously ill. At that time I missed a year of football and didn’t come back until I was 16 then Pat Devlin gave me a chance at Cabinteely FC in the league of Ireland at 17 and I never looked back really. At the same time I got onto a full time football course in Dublin with the FAI (Football Association of Ireland) which helped me out massively Gerry Davis gave me that chance and helped me out massively both on and off the pitch which I’m very grateful for.

My time at Cabinteely FC in the league of Ireland – I started out at Cabinteely at 17 while at Cabinteely playing in the league of Ireland I was full time on a football course run by the Fai in Dublin run by Gerry Davis! I made my debut with Cabinteely FC 1st team at 17 and stayed there until I was 21 making nearly 100 first team appearances in the league of Ireland I scored a couple of goals from right back and right wing back – I had a brilliant time at Cabinteely FC it was really good for me to be in a first team playing weekly at 17. The most important in football is playing weekly.

The manager at Cabinteely FC was Pat Devlin he was brilliant with me and really looked after me he gave me my chance in Irish football and looked after me brilliantly while there along with the other coaches Eddie Gormley too.

I still keep an eye out for there results and hoping they do well. At 21 I came over to England and spent nearly a year at Burton Albion with the 1st team with Nigel Clough I learned a lot both on and off the pitch I played against Derby County and Shrewsbury Town while I was there!

You also played in England for Boston United. How do you look back on your time at the club and do you have any special memories or highlights?

I then went to Boston United in the national league North last year I scored vs Grimsby town on my first game and done really well then on my league debut I was man of the match vs Leamington FC in the games I played at Boston I only lost 1 game while in the team I learned a lot at Boston also and really enjoyed my time while I was there it was a good experience

My current team I have signed for just recently in January is Blyth Spartans in the national league north under Michael Nelson I’m really enjoying it so far and looking forward to the league commencing. He’s been really good to me so far and I’m looking forward to playing under him.

You have been capped by Republic of Ireland at youth international level. How do you reflect on representing your country and what are your memories of playing international football?

Well, Unfortunately I did not get the chance to play international football because in the week that I got called up to the Republic of Ireland at under 15 level I became really badly ill I suffered really bad wait loss. I twisted my bell and burst my appendix at the same time.

I was returning home from training and I became really badly ill and I was in hospital for a few months and it was a really bad time for me and it was definitely a tough time for me becoming so close to represent my country at international level. I have since made a full recovery and I am back to 100 percent health which is the most important thing.

You have accrued good experience at club and international level. Could you say who are among the best players you have played alongside so far in your career?

Players I’ve played with who have gone onto have really good careers the players who have been really good have been Jack Byrne who now plays for APOEL Nicosia and another top lad and player Jake Mulraney who now plays at Atlanta United in the MLS in America. Also at Cabinteely FC Jason knight was coming through he’s now at derby county doing really well and another lad Jamie McGrath whose doing really well at St Mirren in Scotland. Also at Burton, Marcus harness was a really really good player and so was David Templeton as there both really good wingers it was good to come up against them everyday in training.

Could you say which opponents you have faced that have stood out for you in terms of talent and ability?

Opponents I have faced would be Michael Duffy off Dundalk FC again a left winger he was a really good player also Ikechi Anya of Derby County was really good also really quick. Ronan Curtis of Portsmouth FC was good too.

Finally Karl. Could you say which coaches and managers have meant a lot to you and played a key role in your development as a professional footballer?

The main coaches who have helped and played a key role in my development have been Gerry Davis and Pat Devlin they were really good to me when I was in Ireland and helped me a lot. Also my strength and conditioning coach Martin Nugent who plays for the Dublin GAA team played a big role in making me a much better and stronger player physically. He’s a top Strength and Conditioning coach.

I know I can play in the football league if I get a run of games and play consistently well. I think in some ways I’ve been unfortunate in some instances but I’m not making excuses and I’ve certainly got a lot in me as I don’t think anyone has seen the best of me yet so there’s a lot more to come. I’m still young and been through a lot and have come back. Hopefully please god I get that chance to do well I’m still young and hungry to succeed as my aim is to play in the football league.

FEATURE PHOTOGRAPH: Blyth Spartans Football Club

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