“I knew how good he was..” Ex-Owl believes Sheffield Wednesday messed up in letting youngster move on
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Conor Grant left the Hillsborough club for Rochdale for an undisclosed fee in February and immediately took to senior football, making 20 appearances as the Lancashire side battled bravely against relegation to League Two.
His manager Brian Barry-Murphy who also played at Wednesday, waxed lyrical about Grant’s talents to Off The Ball.
Barry-Murphy had kept a close eye on the 19-year-old since before he joined the Owls from Shamrock Rovers in 2018 and believes he has everything it takes to become a full Republic of Ireland international.
“I knew how good he was and thought he was going to be a top players when he came over here,” the Spotland boss said.
“He didn’t feature loads for Sheffield Wednesday but you feel as if you’ve got an advantage then because you’ve seen him when he came over and you can use that to the club’s advantage.
“He established himself as one of the most creative players in League One and hopefully will be in League Two next year.
“I’m convinced Conor Grant will be a senior future international for Ireland.
“If you give those players a real platform to impress in League One, it can be a real opportunity for them to impress and progress up the ladder.”
Grant made only one appearance for Wednesday, ironically off the bench in an EFL Cup win at Rochdale last season. His departure was the only Hillsborough action of a fraught deadline day in the winter transfer window.
Barry-Murphy, who played 59 times for the Owls between 2003 and 2004, admitted he was surprised the chance to sign Grant was afforded to his side.
“I was convinced when he was at Sheffield Wednesday that he would get in their first team and be a mainstay in the Championship,” he said.
“When he didn’t, I just chanced my arm to be honest and tried my best to get him over to Rochdale.
“When he did I was delighted and thought I could help him progress into the international arena with the under-19s and the he’s done that now with the under-21s.
“If he continues on this career path there aren’t many like him I don’t think.”
Continuing his admiration of who he described as a truly special talent, Barry-Murphy likened the youngster’s potential to another former Ireland international who also played in the Premier League.
The 42-year-old sees no reason why he can’t make true on that potential.
He said: “He’s an incredible player. I said to the fellas over here in England, if he was Spanish you’d say he was a typical Spaniard.
“When you think about Wes Hoolahan and the influence he had on the Irish squad, it was always a case of ‘we don’t have anything else like him’. I’m not saying Conor is better than Wes at this stage of his career but he’s equally as talented, equally as creative.
“The way he plays the game, he’s incredible to watch.”