DESPITE the rumour mill suggesting otherwise, Cian Byrne is still very much a Dundalk FC player.
After being spotted by Martin Connolly during the FAI’s Emerging Talent Programme, Byrne made the move to Oriel Park in June 2010. The 18-year-old made a real impact in the first-team under Ian Foster at the back end of last season, starting the final 10 league games.
However his first-team involvement has been limited to just one appearance this season – against Longford Town in the EA Sports Cup - leading to speculation that Byrne had quit the club because of a lack of opportunities under Sean McCaffrey.
However those rumours were firmly put to bed when he took part in training last Tuesday night with the U19 squad ahead of their Enda McGuill Cup final against Cork City.
The Cavan native will captain the Lilywhites in the final and he is hoping that their record at Oriel Park will be factor in he destination of the trophy.
“We have nothing to be afraid of, especially as it’s on our own patch. We haven’t been beaten at Oriel Park all year. We’ve a team that can beat anyone on our day and hopefully we can do that on Wednesday.”
Cup finals can often be tense, dour affairs but Byrne insists his team-mates have the character to rise to the big occasion.
“We need to think about the performance that we have to put in and nothing else but if we play well I’m fully sure we can win the game”, he said.
“Character is what we’re all about. We want to win every game we play and each one of us would put our head in for a team-mate. We’re all one. You saw that in the semi-final against Bohemians at Dalymount Park. There was hail and there was snow but we got stuck in and hopefully we can come out on top again.”
Cork City arrive at Oriel Park with the FAI U19 Elite Division title already in the trophy cabinet but after beating Shamrock Rovers and Bohemians on the way to the final, Byrne insists the Rebels will hold no fear for his side.
“Martin Connolly and Mick Neville have been well briefed about them. They won the Elite Division and obviously they are a good side. They’ve only lost twice all season so they must have something about them but no side is unbeatable and if we can go out with a positive attitude there is no need why we can’t do it. Beating Shamrock Rovers and beating Bohs means we certainly won’t fear them.”
For Byrne there is also the added incentive of lifting the trophy if Dundalk win.
“It would be nice to lift the trophy as captain but we have to worry about winning it first”, he said.
“Winning the cup would be a lovely way to mark two years at the club”, he added. “My father runs me over from Cavan twice a week and it’s a good job I have him about or I wouldn’t be here. He plays a big contribution and hopefully I can reward him on Wednesday.”
With the U19 season coming to a close, a return to the first-team set-up is next in Byrne’s sights.
“It has been frustrating not being involved more with the first-team but I’m young and I can’t ask too much. I’m enjoying it at Dundalk so we’ll see what happens.“