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'He's top class' - Praise for Ireland's Champions League-winning coach

John Egan and Stephen Kenny have both hailed the impact of Anthony Barry.

Anthony Barry (file pic).
Anthony Barry (file pic).
Image: Ryan Byrne/INPHO

JOHN EGAN and Stephen Kenny have both spoken in glowing terms about Anthony Barry’s impact since joining the Irish team.

The Chelsea coach first linked up with the Irish set-up earlier this year, following Damien Duff’s decision to step away from the international game.

Barry was already highly thought of in England, working initially with Frank Lampard and now Thomas Tuchel at the London club, having previously been employed under Paul Cook at Wigan, as his appointment at 30 made him the youngest first-team coach in the country.

“He has top quality in analysing games and giving his opinion,” Tuchel told The42 earlier this year. “He is very comfortable on the pitch when he is in charge of exercises and he is very comfortable in front of the group. He is in charge and is the specialist for all set-pieces — so he is doing the video sessions and training for set-pieces – and is the assistant in any other exercises.” 

The 35-year-old former Yeovil and Fleetwood Town player no doubt came into this Irish camp on a high, having helped guide Chelsea to Champions League glory a little more than a week ago.

Over the past few days, Irish centre-back John Egan has been working with Barry for the first time, as the Sheffield United star missed the last international camp — when the coach came on board initially — through injury.

“He didn’t bring his [Champions League] medal, no,” Egan smiles, when asked about Barry linking up with the squad. “I’d say he’s too humble for that. But he is a top, top coach. This is obviously my first camp working with him and the ideas I’ve learned from him have been unreal in a week already. I can see why he is at a club like Chelsea and it’s fantastic that we have him here. It’s fantastic for every player here to learn from him.

“We are all like sponges really, just trying to learn and trying to improve every day. I think it’s been really beneficial this week.

“Everybody who has come away has learned a lot and benefited on and off the pitch. So overall, it’s been a good camp so far.”

And what specifically has Barry brought to the table since coming aboard the Irish set-up?

“Without going into too much detail, on the training ground, there are ideas for different scenarios on the pitch. He’s top-class,” says Egan.

Kenny also offered praise to the coach but emphasised the role that all his backroom staff play in attempting to get the most out of his side.

“I think he’s a very good coach. Keith Andrews, likewise. He’s been excellent since he came in. Dean Kiely has come in as well, had a good impact. We’ve got really good staff behind the scenes, lots of brilliant people really working hard.”

Egan captained the Irish team against Andorra and with regular skipper Seamus Coleman unavailable again, he is set to lead the side out in Tuesday’s clash with Hungary.

“It’s a massive honour, playing for your country, and to wear the armband is something special, something that I am really proud to have done,” the Cork native says.

Along with the rest of the defence though, the former Brentford player did receive criticism owing to how easily they conceded the opening goal against Andorra. Asked to elaborate on what went wrong, he wasn’t keen to go into detail.

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“Ah listen, it’s football. We got done on a set-piece and that’s it. We showed great character to bounce back.”

Overall, the 4-1 victory was satisfactory, and Egan admits there has been a sense of relief in the camp, as an 11-match winless run under Kenny was finally brought to a halt.

The 28-year-old defender also reserved praise for fellow centre-back Dara O’Shea and 19-year-old goalkeeper Gavin Bazunu, with both players impressing despite being relatively inexperienced at international level.

“Gav, for someone so young to play in that position especially as it’s probably the most scrutinised position on a football pitch, it’s fantastic to see his composure and ability. You wouldn’t be contracted to Man City if you didn’t have ability. He’s a top young keeper and top young talent. Hopefully, he can keep improving and the sky is the limit for Gav really.”

Troy Parrott is another fairly new face that Egan has been impressed by, especially after the Tottenham youngster was key in turning the Andorra game in Ireland’s favour, as he registered a clinical brace.

“I don’t know if I have come up against him much [in training]. We did a game the other day. Munster was one team, Dublin another, and Ulster and Connacht were others. I think Ulster and Connacht ended up winning, we lost the final. But I did a job on him in that game for Munster.

“But he’s good, it’s good to see him training every day. He always wants the ball, he’s a really good finisher left and right, he’s a top young talent and he’s a hard worker.”

About the author:

Paul Fennessy

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