Sport League of Ireland

Saturday 16 December 2017

European date for Maguire goodbye

Kevin O’Connor and Sean Maguire celebrate after Cork City’s Europa League victory over Levadia Tallinn at Turner’s Cross. Photo by Eóin Noonan/Sportsfile
Kevin O’Connor and Sean Maguire celebrate after Cork City’s Europa League victory over Levadia Tallinn at Turner’s Cross. Photo by Eóin Noonan/Sportsfile
Daniel McDonnell

Daniel McDonnell

Sean Maguire will make his final Turner's Cross appearance for Cork City in Thursday's Europa League date with Cypriot side AEK Larnaca.

Cork's main man will start life with Preston on July 24 along with Kevin O'Connor, which means that the duo will sign off by completing the second-round qualifier.

The order of the Larnaca tie has been reversed due to competition rules - a clash with another game in Cyprus means that the initial meeting takes place in Cork.

Maguire and O'Connor will sign off after the decider on July 20. They have two league games remaining on their schedule: the visit of St Patrick's Athletic - who have signed Dutch defender Jordi Balk - to Turner's Cross tomorrow and a rescheduled encounter with troubled Bray on Sunday week.

Both players will be missed, especially Maguire, who has been inspirational this season, with his hat-trick against Levadia Tallinn on Thursday making him the club's all-time record scorer in European competition with six goals.

He hopes to push for international inclusion when he completes a move to Preston.

Ironically, his future employers are in Cork for a training camp next week, which means that new boss Alex Neil could get a chance to watch his new player, who was signed by Sunderland-bound former manager Simon Grayson.

There were calls for Maguire to be drafted into the Ireland set-up while in Cork colours but the Kilkenny man is confident he'll get there one day.

"Obviously it's disappointing not getting called up but I'm not really too pushed on it," said the 23-year-old. "I know one day that I will put on the Irish jersey and show them how good I am."

Martin O'Neill was in Tallaght on Thursday to watch a youthful Shamrock Rovers side set up a meeting with Czech outfit Mlada Boleslav.

They are also at home first, and manager Stephen Bradley has already conducted some online research on a team that regularly competes at the top end of their league despite having a small fanbase - they struggle to fill their 5,000-capacity stadium.

Bradley was delighted by his team's application in a 2-0 aggregate win over Iceland's Stjarnan with a goal in each leg against opponents who did not endear themselves to the Hoops.

"I felt they were very arrogant in their comments after the (first) game," said Bradley, "They talked like they were the better team over there and that we got a lucky goal - that annoyed me.

"I just felt they were disrespectful. It was about us showing the players those comments and saying 'this is what they think of you so go and put it right' and I thought we did that."

After a rocky start to the campaign, Bradley feels a sense of vindication now that his players are coming good.

"People on the outside were expecting us to go and win the league," he said. "But this group is building towards something - it won't happen overnight but it's happening. For a team to go two legs in Europe and not concede rarely happens so I believe in this group and where we're going."

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