Irish Street Leagues gave Laurence the opporunity to move forward with his life

By Maurice Garvey

FORMER armed robber Laurence Bryan’s “turnaround” in life was evident to see when The Echo met the Tallaght native at the Mansion House last June, during the announcement of the Irish Homeless World Cup team.

While in rehab at Coolmine for drug addiction, Mr Bryan was introduced to the Irish Street Leagues, mostly playing each week in Pearse Street.

Laurance Bryan homeless world cup team compressor

The Irish Homeless World Cup Team at the announcement in the Mansion House last June

His football skills were good enough to be picked to represent the Irish team in Wales – a tournament where the boys in green won silverware – beating Hungary 6-5 in a dramatic plate final last August.

The journey is a remarkable one for Mr Bryan, who was lucky to survive a barbaric prison assault two years ago, which left him with 19 stab wounds, including a slit throat.

Pointing to the long and visible scar carved right across his neck, Laurence acknowledged the attack by four other inmates at Midlands Prison was pre-meditated and “a legacy” of his brother’s involvement in the Crumlin/Drimnagh feud.

Laurence’s older brother Gary Bryan, a former hit man, was shot to death outside his girlfriend’s home on Bunting Road in Walkinstown in 2006 by two suspects who escaped in a stolen vehicle.

After his brother was killed, Laurence fell back into the scourge of drugs – carrying out “jump-overs” to fuel his out-of-control addiction.

The straight-A Leaving Cert student had no involvement in crime until his brother’s death, but following a first conviction in 2008, amassed more than 130 convictions including robbery, criminal damage and possession of knives.

Speaking to The Echo back in June, Laurence conceded the “drugs make you crazy.”

“Growing up as a kid in Brookfield, I played GAA for Thomas Davis, junior football for St Pat’s (St Patrick’s Athletic), but started doing party drugs at 16, and that led me onto heroin at 17.”

After completing his rehab, Laurence told how he was preparing to go to college and start a more positive chapter of his life.

 “Horticulture is what I want to do. I have a job lined up and I’m starting college in September. I like it (horticulture). I’ve always liked hard work, and seeing a job done. It gives me a sense of satisfaction to see a job finished well, also being mindful of nature.”

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