Cork duo Long and Egan ready to step up for Ireland against Georgia

Cork duo Long and Egan ready to step up for Ireland against Georgia
Kevin Long of Republic of Ireland, left, celebrates with team-mate John Egan after scoring. Picture: Seb Daly/Sportsfile

WE could see an all-Cork centre-back pairing on Saturday for the Republic Of Ireland Euro 2020 qualifying clash away to Georgia.

John Egan and Kevin Long are likely to be chosen as Mick McCarthy’s defensive duo for the crunch encounter in Tbilisi.

Speaking in front of the media in Abbotstown this week, Egan feels the good relationship he and Long have off the pitch impacts their on the field displays.

“He would be a couple years older but we are from similar areas around 10 minutes from each other... Togher (Egan) and Ballyphehane (Long). We would have crossed paths a lot of times when we were younger.

“We never played together or against each other because he would have been a couple of age groups above me but we would have known each other; his friends might have known my friends so we would have come across each other a lot. It’s unique to have that many Cork people and even someone who lived two minutes away."

There is a real good Cork feel to the Irish squad at the moment, when you also throw Alan Browne and Conor Hourihane into the equation.

“It’s brilliant for Cork as well, there’s four of us, me, Conor, Longy, Browney. It’s unique to have that many Cork people. It’s brilliant that we’re all involved.

“I remember playing against Conor. He played for Bandon in hurling, I played for Bishopstown and we used to play against them all the time.” 

For Egan, he has made a solid start in what has been an encouraging opening to the Premier League season overall for Sheffield United.

That will be something he’d love to bring to the international stage as well.

Kevin Long and John Egan. Picture: INPHO/Ryan Byrne
Kevin Long and John Egan. Picture: INPHO/Ryan Byrne

“I’m playing with confidence at the moment but I’ve always had belief in my ability,” he says after featuring in all eight of United’s opening games of the club campaign.

“You’re happy you’re playing games against the top strikers and it does give you added confidence but I’ve not done anything yet really, I’m only starting out.

“For me, I’m just the same as I’ve always been; keeping the head down trying to improve and see where it takes me. I’m going to come in as I always do, get a good week’s training under my belt and see what happens.” 

At club level, Egan plays in a quite unique set-up under Chris Wilder that consists of a central trio. 

“I played a back four all my career until I signed for Sheffield United. It doesn’t really matter if it’s a back four, or a back three or back five, I can adapt.

“At Sheffield United we have a unique way of playing a back three, anyway. It’s a bit gung-ho but it’s organised chaos, it’s brilliant.

“Whether it’s a back three or back four, I can quite easily adapt to it.”

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