Belfast boy: Dreams are coming true for Ireland prop Liam Byrne

Drew Darbyshire
Liam Byrne Ireland SWpix

Photo: Will Palmer/SWpix

It has been a dream year for Liam Byrne, who won the Challenge Cup with Wigan and is now representing Ireland in his first World Cup.

The 23-year-old enjoyed an impressive season in clubland, helping the Warriors win their first piece of major silverware under new head coach Matt Peet in the shape of the Challenge Cup. Byrne also established himself as a regular starting front-rower under Peet.

Byrne is now fulfilling a lifelong dream of playing in a World Cup. He was born and raised in Salford but qualifies to play for Ireland through his father’s side of the family, who hail from Belfast, the capital of Northern Ireland.

“It’s a great way to top the year off,” Byrne told Love Rugby League. “I’ve always dreamed of playing in a World Cup so my dreams are coming true.

“It’s an honour to represent Ireland in my first World Cup. I think we’ve got a really good team together from staff to players. I really think we can get something going here so hopefully it will stand us in good stead.

“My grandma and grandad were born and raised in Belfast. My dad wasn’t born there but he moved back when he was younger and he considers himself a Belfast boy, so I’m very proud to represent my family and grandparents.”

Liam Byrne: Singing Ireland’s Call gave me goosebumps

Byrne made his international debut for Ireland in 2018, helping the Wolfhounds qualify for the World Cup.

But on Sunday, he won his sixth cap for Ireland as he played his first game in a World Cup, helping Ged Corcoran’s side ease past Jamaica 48-2 at Headingley.

“My dad and brothers were here, they are very proud,” Byrne added. “My grandma still lives in Northern Ireland, I think she would’ve been watching it on the BBC.

“It was unreal (Ireland’s Call). It gave me goosebumps. I was quite emotional singing it, the lads love it.

“Everyone is proud. We’ve had some very honest chats with each other from the past week and we’ve opened up to each other. You see where lads have come from and what hardships they’ve gone through.

“Considering we’ve only been in camp for about a week, we’ve got a really tight-knit group together. We are enjoying each other’s company and respecting each other so it has been good up to now and I’m looking forward to the rest of the games.”

Ireland seek their second win of the tournament when they face Lebanon in Leigh on Sunday.

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