AFTER being at the heart of one of Gaelic football’s great rivalries in his boyhood years, John Egan is right at home amid the Steel City derby cauldron.
The Sheffield United defender hails from Cork, although – rather uniquely for a Corkonian – his affiliations are with their big Munster rivals Kerry.
It was all down to Egan’s late father John senior, who was considered as one of the all-time GAA greats in his days as a legendary and prolific corner forward for Kerry – where he was a six-time all-Ireland winner in the 70s and 80s.
Egan senior enjoyed many famous episodes at Cork’s expense during his halcyon days, with his son eager to sample the sweet derby sensation of victory in the footballing sphere as the Blades and Sheffield Wednesday resume hostilities this evening.
Egan said: “The rivalry back home in Gaelic football was Cork and Kerry. I was born and raised in Cork, but my family were all Kerry.
It was a good rivalry growing up and my first days of rivalries. I am looking forward to now testing out the Sheffield one.John Egan
“I was the only kid in Cork going to school with a Kerry jersey on. I was the one taking all the abuse, but it was good fun and good times.
“It was a good rivalry growing up and my first days of rivalries. I am looking forward to now testing out the Sheffield one.”
Having been weaned on one great sporting rivalry, Egan will experience another tonight and the new Sheffield resident has soon appreciated its significance in a city where you are either red and white or blue and white and there is no in between.
The £5m centre-half added: “Whenever I move somewhere in England I like to get a feel for the place, city and all the fans. You are playing for their club and want to go out and represent their club in the right way.
“I like getting a feel for places and I think I have got a feel for Sheffield already and have definitely got a feel for how big this game is for our fans. We are trying to put on a performance for them.”
Should Egan have required any further proof of the status of this particular derby, it will have been quickly reinforced by two dyed-in-the-wool Unitedities in his manager Chris Wilder and captain Billy Sharp.
The former Brentford player said: “The manager makes you aware of how big the club is and the fans really get behind you. They are fantastic and all we are trying to do is go out and repay them in every game.”
Venue: Bramall Lane.
Coverage: Sky Sports.
Team news: Sheffield Wednesday could include forwards Fernando Forestieri and Marco Matias after the pair returned to training after injury. But Keiren Westwood, David Jones, Gary Hooper, Kieran Lee and Sam Winnall are all sidelined due to injury. Sheffield United have no injury problems, meaning a recall for Mark Duffy.
Last six games: United WWLDWL; Wednesday DWLLLL.
Referee: A Madley (W Yorkshire).
Last time: Sheffield United 0 Sheffield Wednesday 0; January 12 2018; Championship.