Anthony Barry's coaching is "unreal" says Republic of Ireland's John Egan
International friendly: Hungary v Republic of Ireland (tonight, Ferenc Szusza Stadium, 7pm)
CENTRAL defender John Egan was anxious not to give away any training ground secrets – but the Cork native believes Ireland have fallen on their feet in netting the coaching services of Chelsea’s Anthony Barry.
After only a few months in the role senior boss Stephen Kenny was forced to seek replacements for Damien Duff and Alan Kelly after the pair departed in January.
But judging by all the noises coming out of the Irish camp, Barry may well be an improvement on Kenny’s managerial line-up.
In February, the manager announced the capture of the 35-year-old Liverpudlian who also helped Chelsea's successful Champions League push last month before hooking up with the Irish squad for their end of season training camp and friendlies with Andorra and Hungary.
Speaking ahead of tonight’s clash with Euro 2020 finalists Hungary in Budapest, Egan name-checked Barry a couple of times in his virtual press conference.
“The ideas we are getting on the training pitch are fantastic,” beamed Egan, who partnered Dara O’Shea in last Thursday’s 4-1 win over Andorra, Kenny’s first as senior manager.
“Anthony has obviously come back from the Champions League final with Chelsea and the ideas he is bringing into the camp are second to none.
“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. Obviously we are missing some players through injury and stuff, they are going to come back into the fold.
“They have missed this camp but that’s just football. I think everybody who has come away has learned a lot and benefited a lot on and off the pitch. So overall it’s been a good camp so far.”
Pressed on shedding more light on Barry’s skills set and whether or not he’d brought his Champions League winner’s medal along, Egan said: “He didn’t bring his medal, no. I’d say he’s too humble for that. But he is a top, top coach, a really good 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.
“Without going into too much detail, on the training ground there are ideas for different scenarios on the pitch. He’s top-class.”
Egan, who experienced only his second win last Thursday night as a senior international, says he will tune in to watch some of this month’s Euro finals even though the play-off pain of losing to Slovakia still lingers.
“There are games on every day and I know a few people playing in it so I'll probably keep an eye on them but there is that part of me that wishes we could be there and a bit of not wanting to watch it because of that. I'm sure I'll have a couple of weeks to switch off as well.”
Hungary’s first group game next Tuesday will be Ireland’s World Cup qualifying opponents Portugal, who they face on September 1 in Faro.
“Everyone knows Portugal are a top team. They will probably be in and around the Euros this year to win it, in my opinion. They’ve got some top, top players and we take them on after the Euros, in the next international camp. We will be looking at that game when it comes around. I quite like watching the Portugal teams and teams like Spain and Germany.”