Sunday 18 November 2018

Seán is no longer hurler on the ditch as he eyes full cap

Maguire: Looking forward to chance. Photo: Piaras Ó Mídheach/Sportsfile
Maguire: Looking forward to chance. Photo: Piaras Ó Mídheach/Sportsfile

Seán Maguire knew by the age of 13 that, no matter what talent the boys around him in his native Kilkenny had, he would never make it as a hurler.

But now, at the age of 23, the striker is reaping the rewards for his dedication and hard work as the Preston striker is, possibly, just days away from his senior international debut.

Ireland need a win in Friday's qualifier at home to Moldova. They also need goals, badly, but finding the net is something they have been bad at at home, just two goals netted in four qualifiers in Dublin to date in the campaign.

Another uncapped player in the squad, Aston Villa's Scott Hogan, cost his club well over ten times the fee which Preston paid Cork City for Maguire in the summer, and while Hogan is not ten times the player, he probably is ahead of Maguire in the pecking order in Martin O'Neill's brain.

But Maguire is happy that his international career is now about to take off after spells of frustration.

"It's another step closer to achieving my dream of representing my country. If the gaffer gives me the opportunity I'll rise to the challenge," says Maguire, on form with Preston since his summer exit from a Cork City side who have really missed his presence and goals.


"I'm just really looking forward to the experience of being in the same dressing room with players of the calibre that are in the senior team. The sort of players that I looked up to, for example, Shane Long. I've looked up to him in every aspect of his game. I'll be talking to him hopefully during the week and get to know him and the boys a bit better.

"It kind of hit me there, walking in getting a bite to eat with all the boys, all the players, looking at players like Shane Long, Robbie Brady, players that I've looked up to.

"Speaking to them and stuff, it hasn't really hit me yet that I'm here, that I'm part of this group.

"I just got to stay fully focused because football is a mad game, it could turn around really quickly and you know I could be part of Friday so I just have to be fully focused."

His home place of Castlecomer in Kilkenny will have the bunting out - green, white and orange, not amber and black - should he get to play on Friday, the kind of place where heroes are usually hurlers.

"I was no good at hurling," Maguire jokes. "I figured that out when I was 12 or 13, that I was useless at it. I think I speak on behalf of everyone that plays football, from the age of four or five, it was my dream to play for my country. And I'm one step closer to achieving goal," he adds, as frustration at U21 level with Ireland could end with a run-out for the seniors.

"With the 21s, I think I played ten games and didn't start one. It was a bit frustrating. I came on for five minutes here and ten minutes there. I felt I did well with Cork City and I felt I had to go to Preston and show what I can do at that level to kick on and be an international player. I'm enjoying it and hopefully I can kick on from there."

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