"That's a risk I'd be willing to take" - Byrne ready and raring for a championship
Players want to play.
2018 was a write off for Davy Byrne, who missed the whole summer because of a broken foot. He'd been long enough on the sidelines and that made the 2019 All-Ireland winning season, when he started every game bar one, that bit more special.
"It was a frustrating one because it was one where it happened after the National League. I’d seen a good bit of game time in the National League and was looking forward to Championship and just innocuously enough picked up that foot injury. It seemed at the time that I would have been able to recover from it and get back in time for the All-Ireland series but it ended up not properly healing so it was a bit of a setback. It was tough to take but injuries are part and parcel of sport for most athletes so it was just something you need to take and it makes it all the sweeter when you finally get back on the pitch.
“That whole year, that summer, the full Championship, I was off. I got back training a little bit but was never really fully 100%..."
By 2019, he was a different animal with a renewed vigour and a relentless desire. The season went swimmingly for the back man who became a key member of the Dublin team, picking up and blotting out some of the best forwards in the country.
This year, it all stalled again. Not by injury but because of Covid-19. After a three month lock-down, he's appreciating the game more than ever and admits that even if there was a minor risk about going back to play for Dublin later on in the year, that it's a risk he'd be willing to take.
"Yeah, it's been great to be back playing club games and getting back out there. It feels like a bit of normality setting in.
"Would you rather there were more crowds in Croke Park for an inter-county game? Of course. But I think something is better than nothing. I'm just happy to play a game at this stage, whatever the case may be.
"You have to respect everyone's individual decision as a player. If a player decides they don't want to come back, then that's fair enough.
"From my own perspective, that's a risk I'd be willing to take. But I suppose you do put yourself a little bit at risk when playing these games.
"It'll be taking the attitude of following whatever guidance is out there. If the GAA are saying it's safe to come back and play, then we'll play."
As for the lock-down itself, Byrne recharged the batteries to ready himself for another season in Dublin's last line.
"What did I do….I supposed you can’t be staying fit for 12 month of the year and asking yourself when the off-season is going to be. Then there was a lot of uncertainty at the start, we didn’t know if we were going to be getting ready for a championship in the summer or if county was going to be first. Then we found out that county was kind of last, so I did take a little bit of time off to try and rest and recover. You are not going to be able to maintain it for 12 months of the year. You want to make sure you are peaking towards the end of the season so I took a bit of time off to rest and recover and went back at it then with the club.