Single-minded Sean Maguire proud of perfect start at Preston

Sean Maguire, who scored an eye-catching solo goal on his debut for Preston in a friendly against Burnley on Wednesday night, has expressed delight that he was able to take up at Deepdale where he left off at Turner’s Cross.

“I’ve been doing well for Cork and came into this game very confident,” he said. “Coming off the bench I knew I’d be able to make myself an opportunity and whether it goes back into the net or not, that’s what I’m going to bring to the team.

“When the ball goes out wide I’m always in the box and I score a lot of goals there. I rarely score outside the box. That something I need to work on but hopefully I can kick on now.”

Maguire, a second-half substitute along with his former Cork City colleague Kevin O’Connor, ignored the fact his fellow Irishman Eoin Doyle was in space when he opted to finish a surging run from close to halfway by angling a low drive to the corner of the Burnley net, as the Championship side went down 2-1 to the Premier League team.

“Me and Doyler had a bit of laugh about why I didn’t pass to him,” said Maguire. “But I told him that once I picked up the ball I only had one thing on my mind and that was getting a shot on goal. I took the ball and shifted it onto my right foot. People probably thought I’d lost it but it crept into the bottom corner and I was delighted.

“It was amazing to finally pull the jersey on and step out onto the pitch tonight,” he added. “I’ve been dreaming of that moment and walking out in front of the Preston fans. Scoring is a massive plus but it was a great run-out.”

New Preston manager Alex Neil was suitably impressed by the Kilkenny man’s debut.

“Looking at Sean, you can tell he is mid-season, he looked sharp and bright, his goal was excellent,” he said.

“The one thing he did really well which I didn’t expect too much was his link-up play. With a small striker, generally you expect them to stretch the game by getting down the sides but he made himself a handful, took the ball and linked it. Hopefully he can continue in that vein.”

Meanwhile, the greening of Preston has been reinforced with confirmation from Neil that Irish international Greg Cunningham will go into the new season as team captain, pending the recovery from injury of Tom Clarke.

Clarke is expected to remain sidelined until the new year after rupturing an Achilles tendon back in April.

Meanwhile, former Cork City stalwart Colin Healy has rejoined the club as part of its underage coaching set-up.

Healy enjoyed two spells at City, ending his playing career on a high by figuring in the FAI Cup final win over Dundalk last November.

Welcoming Healy’s return to Turner’s Cross, City manager John Caulfield said: “Colin was immense for us as a player since I took over as manager, and was a crucial player for us right up to the cup final win in November. I have been speaking to him over the last number of months about getting involved, and I am delighted that he is now on board.”

“We want to have the best coaches and the best people involved in our underage set-up, to help us to bring more players through to the first team, and having people of Colin’s calibre can only help us in that regard.”

Healy said: I am very pleased to be involved and looking forward to it. I have spoken to John and the other coaching staff and I hope that I can help with what the club is looking to achieve. We all want to work with our young players to give them the best possible opportunity to play at the highest level.”

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