Egan just keeps on motoring while Hendrick tries to find a new gear

A look at some of the winners and losers from Ireland’s Nations League campaign
Egan just keeps on motoring while Hendrick tries to find a new gear

Brothers in arms: Ireland's Nathan Collins and John Egan with Tigran Barseghyan and Hrayr Mkoyan of Armenia. Pic: INPHO/Morgan Treacy

ON THE UP

Many a contender, with Nathan Collins firmly in the mix, but John Egan takes the honours at the standout player.

The June window coincided with the birth of his daughter but didn’t detract from his stellar performances as Ireland battled back from two defeats.

It was in this window, however, that the 29-year-old cemented his status as the team captain, leading by example with goals in both matches while performing his primary function at the back with aplomb. That Stephen Kenny reestablished Egan at the centre of his back-three when Collins has made such a compelling case against Ukraine last time out testifies to his importance to the unit.

MADE UP LOST GROUND

It was catch-up time for several players, including Matt Doherty who missed the June window, yet the most welcome sight was Robbie Brady back on the training pitch last Monday week.

His struggles for fitness and consistency are well-known but a sharp Brady, buoyed by his resurrection this season at Preston North End, yields dividends for Ireland. In retrospect, a start, instead of a late cameo, should have occurred in Scotland but he showed his class with a pinpoint corner onto Egan’s head for last night’s breakthrough goal.

GOING BACKWARDS

Watch out for the reverse gear, Jeff Hendrick. One of Ireland’s first choices from last year’s rescued World Cup qualification campaign lasted just two games of this series before being culled in the aftermath of defeats to Armenia and Scotland. Jayson Molumby hasn’t done much to render that decision a mistake and it took a suspension to Josh Cullen for Hendrick to be restored in the final match. At 30, he’s still got much to give and will improve with a regular run of games at Reading by the time of the next window in November.

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