David Byrne enjoying Dublin adventure
By Cian O'Connell
David Byrne’s face creases into a smile as the question is posed. When entering the Dublin panel did Byrne envisage that the sky blue team would embark on such a successful and silverware laden stint?
“No, no, we knew we were going well at the time after winning in 2011, I was a minor watching that with some of the legends playing then,” Byrne recalls.
“We've been lucky enough that we've had a great run of success since I have joined. I'm just lucky to be born at the time I was and joined the panel at the time I did.
“I came into the panel in 2013, I was pretty young, straight after minor. Straightaway I got a sense of how seriously everyone takes it, how much of an honour it is to be playing with these lads everyday.”
This is precisely the time of year, when the challenge rises and the All Ireland Quarter-Final series edges closer, that Byrne craves to be involved in. Matches against Cork, Roscommon, and Tyrone are imminent. “You are guaranteed three games, three games in quick succession,” Byrne remarks. “I'm going to enjoy it, make the most out of it, just delighted to be playing.
“It is where you want to be at this time of the year. To know you have three guaranteed games is great. We are just looking forward to playing them.”
Byrne credits the solid coaching foundation established by Stephen O’Shaughnessy as being critical to Dublin’s splendid decade.
“I think so, the underage set-up, Stephen O'Shaughnessy has put a lot of work in there,” Byrne admits. “Even my club Naomh Olaf has given me great support throughout the years. I've come through with some great managers and some great coaches there. I've played with some great senior players, I would have learned a lot playing with them.
“I was involved in a few development panels growing up that he would have been the head of and he ran them really well. He got to know different players from throughout the county at a younger age, now I'm playing with some of them at senior.”
That desire and pride associated with playing for Dublin matters deeply in the capital so Byrne is thrilled to represent Naomh Olaf, who have made significant strides in recent decades.
Sheer hard work has been put in by the Sandyford based club enabling Byrne to occupy a central role in Olaf’s development.
“We won the Intermediate, it was one my early years properly playing adult football with the club,” Byrne says.
“To come on to be involved straightaway with an Intermediate win was fantastic. I love my club, they give me great support. There is a great community spirit down there and I couldn't say a bad word about them.
“Funnily enough, we were actually pretty bad at my age group. We were in Division Four, we struggled to put a team together. My dad was a manager and sometimes we'd struggle to get 15 out. Now, thankfully, that is not the case at the club.
“We have a lot of teams in Division One and Two throughout the age groups, my age weren't too great, but we had great craic, a bit of fun, that is why I was playing.
“It just so happened by the time I hit adult football we had a few great players coming near the end of their career. We managed to go on a good run to win a Dublin Intermediate Championship.”
Is Olaf’s progression due to a better structure or bigger numbers playing Gaelic Games in the area? “I think it is a bit of both,” Byrne replies.
“We are based in Sandyford where there has been a lot of housing developments in the last few years. You have more kids in the area definitely, but also you have special people in the club, who have put in a lot of effort, a lot of hard work organising, going around to schools, playing GAA in schools every week. Inviting them then up to the club then at a young age.
“We have put a lot of work in, so we have the facilities and resources in place to get the use of them extra numbers we are getting into the club.”
Byrne looks back fondly on his school days in St Benildus when Gaelic Football really began to interest him when featuring on teams with others from Ballinteer St John’s, Kilmacud Crokes, and Ballyboden St Enda’s.
“St Olaf's is the National School which feeds into the club, then I went to secondary school in Benildus, which has a huge football history,” Byrne states.
“I was part of a football team which won four Dublin Championships in a row. My fourth year was the last year of that, Paul Mannion was around my age in school, we had some great victories and memories that I really cherish from Benildus. It was a fantastic school to be involved in, a great footballing school, they gave us great sport there.
“There wasn't too many Olaf's lads around my age, we had a lot of Crokes, a lot of St John's, not too many Cuala, one or two Ballyboden lads. Crokes, John's, and Olaf's were making the team, they went on in 2015 or 2016 to win a Leinster Schools. Football is going well which is great to see.
“I think the school in Benildus’ case it was traditionally more of a soccer or football school. It had more of a history of that, but in the last 10 to 15 it has got more into the GAA, hurling and football.
“Again some teachers decided in the school who put a team together at an age, they trained them and helped to develop them through. It all starts growing, so to get four Dublin schools in a row was an achievement.”
Further cups have been collected in the Dublin jersey by Byrne, who is fully aware that a gifted crop of footballers are producing for Dublin. “It is a huge honour to be part of this team, part of this panel.”
Byrne remains ready, willing, and able to serve the Dublin cause.