Midfielder Jack Baxter has revealed how a conversation with Ireland international Seani Maguire made his mind up about making a move to League of Ireland with Cork City.
Lancashire man Baxter, 20, agreed a loan move to Leeside from English Championship side Preston North End in February. Preston is a hotbed for Irish talent in the English game — the club's owner Trevor Hemmings remains interested in purchasing Cork City — and Maguire, along with fellow Ireland international and North End captain Alan Browne, were brought to England from the club.
Baxter says Maguire filled him in on the Turner's Cross club before he decided on the switch.
"I spoke to Seani a lot about the club before I came over, asking him lots of questions and he sold the club to me," says Baxter. "He told me about the history, how big the club is, and that really made me want to come and play for them.
"Seani is a club legend here and I know how well he did here, and how much the fans loved him. Talking to him about everything just made my mind up coming here, it made it so much easier."
In an 18-month spell at Cork City, Kilkenny man Maguire scored the winning goal in the last minute of extra-time to secure the FAI Cup against Dundalk in 2016, then blitzed the league's defences with 18 goals in a little over half a season to send the club to the Premier Division title in 2017. Maguire completed a move to Preston, as City went on to complete the double that year.
Baxter has settled into Colin Healy's young Cork squad, who are hoping to fight their way out of the SSE Airtricity League First Division.
Though the quicker opening up of pandemic restrictions in the UK — as Ireland tentatively tiptoes out of lockdown — has led to envious glances across the water from Baxter, who has regained a place in the City starting side in recent weeks.
"It has been difficult to see my friends going out but I'm over here to do a job and that's the sacrifices you have to make to be a footballer," he explains. "You have to understand these things going into it and I'm prepared to do that.
"Obviously I miss my family and friends and it can be difficult at times being away from home but I'm managing it — it's part of football, isn't it?"
City face a tough trip to league leaders UCD in the First Division on Friday night (7.45pm) but come into the game in decent form, having ended a run of four defeats with a clean sheet against Bray a fortnight ago, then following up with a thumping 5-0 win over Wexford last weekend.
But City boss Colin Healy has confirmed they will continue to be without George Heaven, Stephen Beattie, and Cory Galvin at the UCD Bowl on Friday night.