Alec Byrne on Cork City's season, college life and his respect for Joe Gamble

Byrne will be busy next season, combining his Cork City career and a masters in UCC
Alec Byrne on Cork City's season, college life and his respect for Joe Gamble

CITY SLICKER: Cork City's Alec Byrne. The midfielder has resigned for the club, but may be waiting until the end of March for the first division campiagn to kick off. Picture: Laszlo Geczo, Inpho

CORK CITY midfielder Alec Byrne will spend this off-season job hunting as well as combining his education and training programme given to him by the club.

Although the off-season is usually a time for players to rest and recover from the hard season gone by, Byrne is aware that he will be kept busy during this time.

“This is my first year ever being on a 42-week contract, so I will have to get a job. It would actually be my first ever job apart from football obviously, but I don’t see that as a job,” Byrne said.

“The club has given us programmes to do, so that will keep me busy. We all know now that in the off-season players don’t really rest. You have to come back in preseason in good condition, so these programmes are really a mini-preseason.

“I’ve just started my masters in UCC. I will be busy enough with college. I’m studying for a business and economics degree. It will be part-time. I couldn’t do it full-time with training. I just started that a few weeks ago. 

"My original degree was in Arts, so that is more down the teacher route, but obviously I couldn’t do the PME (Professional Masters of Education), because with full-time training, I couldn’t go into schools on placements. I did economics anyway with my Arts degree, so I’m kind of doing that now with the masters, but more the business side of it. 

"It’s kind of a Plan B. My priority is football at this moment, so I will just see what happens in the future.

“In terms of work for the off-season, like I’ve said, I’ve not had a job before so I would be on the lookout for anything really. I suppose anything I get would be good to have on my CV and would be a good experience.”

Alec Byrne of Cork City in action against Darren Murphy of Cobh Ramblers. Picture: Michael P Ryan/Sportsfile
Alec Byrne of Cork City in action against Darren Murphy of Cobh Ramblers. Picture: Michael P Ryan/Sportsfile

Reflecting on his first full season with City, Byrne feels that although he and the club were disappointed to miss out on making the playoffs, that there are still positives to take into City’s next campaign from this year.

“It’s been my first proper season after coming back from my knee surgery. I played the last 10 games in 2019. Then last year we had Covid. I suppose we look back on the season with disappointment in terms of missing out on the playoffs. We started off poorly. We went into games probably playing too much football and off the back of that; we weren’t scoring enough goals or threatening teams.

I think the last couple of months, we changed formation and we have looked more dangerous going forward.

“There were a couple of games where we missed opportunities and should have put the game to bed, and we dropped points that we shouldn’t have. I think had we won those games; we would have been in the playoffs this year.

“Yes, it’s been a frustrating season but it is one we will also look back on that will give us experience for next year.

“For me personally, I’ve played a number of positions this season but my favourite is probably playing as an ‘8’. It’s more of a box-to-box position.

 Alec Byrne, Cork City FC. Picture: Larry Cummins.
Alec Byrne, Cork City FC. Picture: Larry Cummins.

“You are doing everything really, tackling, getting on the ball, and getting into the box, and I love that. But it’s good to have versatility."

IDOL

Growing up, Byrne was a supporter of the club. The midfielder remembers writing to former assistant manager Joe Gamble for a school project during his school days and still has the response he received from the former Republic of Ireland international.

“I used to go to the Cross with my buddy. I actually have a letter that I only showed to Gamble last year, that was a letter I wrote in primary school. You write to your heroes or something like that. I wrote to Gamble and he did respond. I actually found the letter last year. It’s strange how things work out.

“Obviously when you are in primary school and you are sending off letters, you want to write to someone you feel will write back to you. I wasn’t going to write to Ronaldo, you wouldn’t get anything back.

“At the time, my buddy and I used to go to Turner's Cross every Friday night, go into the shed and it was a brilliant experience. I remember, I just wrote to Gamble because obviously, I was a City fan, so that’s why I decided to write to him.”

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