Gary Connaughton reporting from the Aviva Stadium
Ireland were very impressive in their draw against Belgium. Playing against very talented opposition, it was Stephen Kenny's side that played much of the better football throughout.
This was despite a rather slow start to the game, with the Belgians opening the scoring and dominating the ball in the the first half hour.
The way Ireland battled back had to have been massively pleasing for the manager, with one man in particular contributing to the turnaround.
Speaking to the media after the game, Kenny said it was the aggressive play of John Egan that flipped the game on its head, explaining how he is so important to the way Ireland approach the game.
To be fair, I thought John Egan changed a lot in that period. His press was so aggressive from left centre back that he won a couple of critical challenges and forced them onto the back foot, plus he took the ball out and was able to add some calm to our play.
I thought he was very, very influential on our play in that period when we needed somebody to be. That was in both characteristics, in terms of spectacular challenges and also carrying the ball out and being able to use it well...
We were quite aggressive in that period and able to get in front of our man. We committed players to a high press, our pressing was relentless and they struggled to get out with that. It requires a huge amount of energy and you can't carry one player even slightly against a team of that quality. It requires huge determination
You leave yourself one-on-one at the back, but we were willing to do that. We don't want to be in a low block defending against them. You could play in a mid block and end up in a low block and not get out, they're that good. It's a slow death, we're not having that.
We want to try and affect the game.
Right from the time he was first appointed, Stephen Kenny has not been shy in expressing how key of a role John Egan will play in his Irish team. His ability on the ball at the back brings a whole new dimension to their play, something that has become increasingly evident in recent games. The fact that he is capable of defending brilliantly in one-on-one situations also allows the team to be brave in employing that high press.
With Ireland in fantastic form, he should only go from strength to strength from here.