Cork look at Hoban as replacement for departing Maguire
Cork City are looking at Pat Hoban as a possible replacement for the departing Seán Maguire but they could face competition from his former club Dundalk.
City confirmed on Saturday that top scorer Maguire will join Preston at the end of July after the clubs reached agreement on a compensation package.
They hold a commanding 18-point advantage over Dundalk at the top of the table following Maguire's outstanding hat-trick at Oriel Park on Friday.
But the clubs could do battle again in the coming weeks in a bid to sign Hoban who is a free agent after his release from Mansfield at the end of the League Two season.
The 25-year-old left Oriel Park at the end of the 2014 season after helping Dundalk to the first of three successive title wins over Cork. However, it didn't really happen for him in England with a spell at Oxford punctuated by loans at Stevenage and Grimsby before a permanent switch to Mansfield. He scored six goals in 24 appearances for the club.
Cork are considering their options and do have a bit of time with Maguire set to be available for their early-stage Europa League games and up to seven league fixtures. Hoban is very much on the radar, and it's believed discussions may already have taken place, but a return to Dundalk for the striker is not out of the question.
Stephen Kenny did say in April that he was happy with his striking options David McMillan and Ciaran Kilduff and ruled out a move for Hoban. That was before a sequence of results that has left the Leesiders in a position of control with Dundalk's focus for the remainder of the season set to revolve around keeping hold of second position and launching a European campaign.
They were comfortably beaten by Cork on their own patch and that could lead to a personnel review in the summer window, particularly with Caulfield keen to strengthen his side's position and move for available talent. The Cork boss has been linked with moves for Galway striker Ronan Murray and Sligo Rovers attacker Kieran Sadlier; Kenny is also understood to be an admirer of the latter.
Maguire will join the Irish contingent at Preston off the back of an incredible 18 months since failing to break in at Dundalk.
He will link up again with Daryl Horgan and Andy Boyle and has time to break the 20-goal mark in the league season before departing - his current tally is 16. Caulfield paid tribute to Maguire after the confirmation that the 23-year-old had agreed a three-year deal to return to England.
"He has been scoring goals, his work rate is phenomenal and we know he'll continue to do that in the rest of his time here," said Caulfield. "Whilst you never want to lose a player of Seánie's quality, we are delighted to have worked with Preston so that he can remain with us until the end of July."