FOOTBALL: Bright Spark Byrne's Euro Hoops Vow

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SHAMROCK Rovers star Richie Byrne has vowed to put the spark into the Hoops' Inter-Toto Cup assault this afternoon, with just 90 minutes between himself and Europe.

The brilliant under-21 International, who doubles as an apprentice electrician in his day job, is still in contract negotiations with Hoops chiefs - but a big win today would surely convince him to sign on the dotted line.

If Rovers beat Longford at Tolka Park this afternoon they'll secure third spot in the table and the only Inter-Toto Cup spot on offer.

After making his European debut in the forgettable 5-1 aggregate loss to Djurgardens of Sweden last August in the UEFA Cup, Byrne is keen to set the record straight.

He's sure that a place in the next round of the Inter-Toto Cup, a back door competition to the UEFA Cup, would not be beyond the Tallaght-bound club, if they qualify for the competition.

But they've got to make it through today first and Byrne's probing from the left-full position will no doubt be integral to the cause.

Byrne has been trailed by a number of English league clubs in recent months since catching the eye as part of Don Givens' Irish U-21 set-up last year.

As a result it's a surprise that Rovers boss Liam Buckley and the club's money-men have failed to secure his services for another season at least.

Whatever about off the field problems, right now Byrne is looking to a bright future on it, in the Green and White of Rovers.

He said: "I'm out of contract now and I'm a free agent which is a bit frustrating because it would have been better to have the contract stuff cleared up months ago.

"Having said that, I'm happy with where I am. I'm still serving my apprenticeship and right now I'm doing the theory part of the course in Kevin Street.

"I should be finished the course in the summer and I would hate to go across the water and leave all that behind. It's something that, like playing for Rovers, I've put a lot of work into during the last few years."

The chances are that Byrne will be a Rovers player when the new summer soccer season kicks off in April. …