|Irish name||Lochlainn Ó Broin|
Born in Waterford, Byrne first excelled at hurling in his youth. He arrived on the inter-county scene at the age of fifteen when he first linked up with the Waterford minor team, before later joining the senior side. He made his senior debut during the 1931 championship. Byrne immediately became a regular member of the starting fifteen, before later playing with Kilkenny, and won one All-Ireland medal, one Leinster medal and one Munster medal. He was an All-Ireland runner-up on two occasions.
As a member of the Munster and Leinster inter-provincial teams on a number of occasions, Byrne won one Railway Cup medal. At club level he played with Ferrybank, Slieverue, Mooncoin and Mount Sion, winning several championship medals.
Byrne played his club hurling with a selection of famous clubs in both Waterford and Kilkenny. He first tasted success with Ferrybank in 1928 when he won a minor county title with the club. Byrne later joined the famous Mooncoin club in Kilkenny. Here he enjoyed further success when he captured a senior county title in 1936 He also lined out with Slieverue during this period. Byrne later joined the famous Mount Sion club in Waterford city and shared in some of that club's famous victories. He won his first senior county title with Mount Sion in 1938. It was the first of three consecutive county titles as Byrne collected two more county medals in 1939 and 1940.
Byrne first came to prominence on the inter-county scene as a member of the Waterford minor hurling team in the late 1920s. He was only fifteen years-old when he won a Munster minor title in 1929 following a 7-5 to 0-2 thrashing of Tipperary. Waterford later qualified for the All-Ireland final where, surprisingly, Meath provided the opposition. The men from the Déise dominated completely and went on to win by 5-0 to 1-1 giving Byrne a coveted All-Ireland medal.
Byrne was later drafted onto the Waterford senior hurling panel. He was only seventeen when he played in the 1931 Munster final with Cork providing the opposition. A close, exciting game developed, however, with time running out Waterford were winning by a single point. Cork, however, had the luck on the day as eight minutes of injury time allowed them to score the equalising point and draw the game. The replay was more conclusive as Cork won by 5-4 to 1-2, ending Waterford's championship campaign.
By the mid-1930s Byrne had crossed the border and was playing with the Kilkenny senior inter-county team. He played in the Leinster decider of 1934, however, Dublin were the winners on that occasion. The following year Byrne was still on the team as Kilkenny defeated Laois to take the Leinster title. Byrne later lined out in his first All-Ireland final at senior level. Limerick provided the opposition on that occasion and were the red-hot favourites. They were the reigning National League and All-Ireland champions and had played a remarkable 31 games without defeat. A record crowd of over 46,000 turned up to watch a hurling classic. In spite of rain falling throughout the entire game both sides served up a great game. At the beginning of the second-half Lory Meagher sent over a huge point from midfield giving Kilkenny an inspirational lead which they wouldn’t surrender. As a result of this victory Byrne collected a coveted All-Ireland medal.
By 1938 Byrne was back on the Waterford senior team. That year his side reached the Munster final with Clare providing the opposition. In a close game Waterford emerged as the victors on a score line of 3-5 to 2-5. Not only was it Byrne's first Munster medal but it was also the first time that Waterford had won the provincial title. Waterford later accounted for Galway allowing Byrne's side to advance to their first-ever All-Ireland final. Dublin provided the opposition on that occasion and the game turned out to be a good one. Declan Goode scored a goal for the Decies after just six minutes, however, Dublin fought back with goals of their own. Eventually, victory went to ‘the Dubs’ on a score line of 2-5 to 1-6.
In 1940 Byrne got injured playing a club match against Portlaw and came off with a coat wrapped around himself. He sat in the wet grass on the sideline for the remainder of the game and, as a result, contracted tuberculosis. His health steadily declined over the next few months and on 19 January 1941 he died in a Dublin hospital. He was only twenty-seven years old.
- "Ireland Civil Registration Indexes, 1845-1958," database, FamilySearch (https://familysearch.org/ark:/61903/1:1:FBTR-84X : accessed 17 November 2015), BIRTHS entry for James Loughlin Byrne; citing Waterford, Jul - Sep 1913, vol. 4, p. 580, General Registry, Custom House, Dublin; FHL microfilm 101,075.
- The Unconquerable Keane: John Keane and the rise of Waterford hurling by David Smith, Published by Original Writing, Dublin Ltd. 2010 (www.originalwriting.ie)