THE Irish connection at the Ballarat Red Devils has yielded a second League of Ireland premier division player.Former Bray Wanderers and St Patrick’s Athletics centre-forward Paul Byrne will join fellow Irishman Brian Shelley in the Haymes Red Devils line-up for this weekend’s match at Trekardo Park against Brunswick. Byrne, 24, has represented Ireland at under-23 level against England.Shelley, who played against Byrne in the League of Ireland during his own time at Bohemians FC and Drogheda, described his countryman as “a very good player”.“I have played on him many times in the past three or four years in the Ireland Premier League and he was always a real handful that’s for sure”, Shelley said.“If you can get a match for the Irish under-23 team you are a very good player. He’s a big lad and will be in everything, and I am looking forward to him playing.”Byrne first joined the Red Devils eight weeks ago but ankle surgery in November had ruled him out of full training until a fortnight ago. He injured the ankle in the match between Ireland and England, but played for another four months before joining Ballarat. “I am feeling better than I have for the past eight or nine months and can’t wait to run out on Trekardo Park on Saturday,” he said. “I’ve been looking forward to this for the past couple of months and I’m ready to go. “I had hoped that I would have been right for last week, but that wasn’t the case.”Byrne came to the attention of the Red Devils in late February, with Shelley involved in discussions about him.“Paul is without doubt a top class player and the club is very excited about him finally getting on to the pitch for this Saturday,” Ballarat football manager Duncan Smith said.“... The next step for him is to play for the senior (Irish) team. If we can help him a little to get to the national set-up that would be great and would clearly be a first for Ballarat.“He is a fierce competitor and hates losing and he will bring some real strength and hardness to the team. He works hard up front and also sets up plenty of chances for other players in much the same way that Adam Newbold does.”With Newbold just about over his hamstring injury and Byrne right to play and Franck Labakohler back from suspension, the Reds will be at full strength for the match against Brunswick.