Enda Stevens: There’s better to come

The flip flops were a necessity, they also told the tale of a niggly night in Copenhagen.

Enda Stevens: There’s better to come

The flip flops were a necessity, they also told the tale of a niggly night in Copenhagen.

In the hour or so after the final whistle blew in the Danish capital on Friday, there were a few different stories to be heard.

Seamus Coleman was one of the last to leave the away dressing room in the Parken Stadium, and his choice of footwear caught the eye. It is unusual for the Republic of Ireland captain to wear flip flops on the walk to the team bus after a game. He needed to on this occasion as both big toes were protected by Tubigrip plasters following some off the ball skirmishes.

“I got both stood on. Not great but I’ll be grand,” he explained. No big deal, but a sign of the skirmishes taking place in a bid for superiority.

Shane Duffy stopped along the line for every microphone, happy to take acclaim as the man of the hour, while former Cork City striker Sean Maguire still left with a smile on his face despite not seeing any action off the bench.

John Egan, soon of the Premier League with Sheffield United, didn’t mind being overlooked by Mick McCarthy and made sure to have Scott Hogan snap a picture of him underneath the logo of their team bus — “Egon’s” — with a cheesy grin to match.

One man who wasn’t wearing a satisfied smile, despite featuring for a third successive 90 minutes, was his club team-mate Enda Stevens. The left back was content with the evening’s work, a valuable point had been secured against vaunted opponents, but he was open about a nagging sense there is still much more to come.

“It’s something to build on, I still think I can do better. In terms of keeping the ball, creating chances, getting forward and that,” the Dubliner began.

He may be 28 years of age but Stevens’ story is only beginning to be told at this level.

He is an international novice — his debut coming last year — and, along with Bandon’s Conor Hourihane and striker David McGoldrick, is still getting to grips with what is required.

“It’s about building relationships with the lads on the team, getting to know each other more and more. That will come with games and hopefully Monday we can do it again,” Stevens continued.

“Hopefully, that’s what I want to do, that’s what I think my game is all about. Front-foot performances, driving forward and Monday is an opportunity for us.

“Especially at home, we want to turn the Aviva into a fortress because home games in the competition are going to be important.

“I’m just looking forward to Monday, another opportunity to put on a performance for the fans, hopefully get a good crowd and another three points.”

While even something as arbitrary as Coleman’s flip flops provided insight, so too did Stevens’ official FAI tracksuit.

The initials “SW” had been removed from the right breast but were still visible, despite his own being printed in their place.

Stephen Ward had occupied that left back berth until his international retirement earlier this year. So, has he literally taken the jacket off his back too?

“It’s actually Shaunie Williams’. It’s all about performances, it’s up to me now. I’ve got to keep putting in the performances to hold on to the jersey. I’ve been good enough to get the chance from the gaffer and it’s up to me to keep it,” Stevens added.

“He just gave a group talk [after the Denmark draw], he said ‘well done, lads, you hung in there, you dug in deep and got a good result’.”

Coleman praised the display of the man on the opposite flank, hailing his attitude and the work he has done to this point. “Enda’s a great player, I have to say. He’s done really well at club level. He’s come the long way, I suppose, and he’s been great for Sheffield United.”

Stevens has worked his way to the Premier League after his release by Aston Villa, enduring a series of loans before finding his feet with Portsmouth and going from strength to strength.

“Everyone has a different story, everyone has a different career path,” Stevens reasoned.

“There are a few who have stayed at the top, who have played most of their career at the top and there are a few who have had to go down to come back up and that’s the great thing about football, it’s just different stories for different people.”

His one continues against Gibraltar tonight.

More in this section


Latest news from the world of sport, along with the best in opinion from our outstanding team of sports writers

Sign up

Select your favourite newsletters and get the best of Irish Examiner delivered to your inbox