Burns has "stood out by a mile" in his League of Ireland return

Darragh BurnsDarragh Burns
Darragh Burns | Jane Russell
The MK Dons man has made a quick impression on loan at Shamrock Rovers

Darragh Burns is rebuilding his reputation on his return to Ireland this season.

The 21-year-old’s MK Dons career has stuttered since his move from St Patrick’ Athletic in the summer of 2022, limited to just 24 outings in 18 months. Returning back to his motherland in January, joining Shamrock Rovers on loan for the League of Ireland season (February-November), Burns faced make-or-break time, and thus far, he has hit the ground running.

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He has started every game this season for the reigning champions, scored three goals, provided three assists and was named Shamrock’s player of the month for February/March too.

“Burns has had a pretty solid return to the League of Ireland so far,” Irish Independent journalist Sean O’Connor told the Citizen. “After managing only sporadic first-team appearances for MK Dons last season it was clear he needed to be playing regular minutes so the move to Rovers made sense.

“Hoops boss Stephen Bradley spoke very highly of the ex U-21 cap on his return and since then, three goals and three assists in nine games is a very solid contribution. He's been operating from an unfamiliar right wing-back role but looks to be flourishing in it so far.

“Bradley labelled him "the best player on the pitch by a country mile" in last month's win over Derry City and when I saw him live against Sligo last Friday, he stood out a mile too.” 

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Regular football should help development

It was a big decision for Burns to make the switch back to Ireland. Team-mate Dawson Devoy said his compatriot had struggled since his move, but seems to have found his groove again in Dublin.

His return has come with a level of expectation from Rovers fans, who are plenty familiar with his LoI exploits when at St Patrick’s, and according to O’Connor, the anticipation as well as regular football should see him return to Milton Keynes better prepared for EFL football.

He continued: “After such a big move over to the UK it takes courage to return home and find form again but so far it's all going to plan. At 21-years-old, regular senior football is key in development and in my view he is far better served playing week in week out in front of thousands every week, than only making the odd appearances off the bench for MK Dons.”

O’Connor added: “He'll hope that when he returns to England, he'll be in a better position to force his way into the first-team. 

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“Big things are expected of him because fans know what he is capable of from his time at St Patrick's Athletic before he arrived in England. Irish fans know what he is capable of and especially at Shamrock Rovers, the highest standard will be expected of him as the champions seek a fifth successive title.”

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