Is Sean Maguire close to an Ireland call? Martin O'Neill on his Preston move

The Ireland manager also talks about Jeff Hendrick's form

BY Raf Diallo 15:17 Friday 21 July 2017, 15:17 21 Jul 2017

Republic of Ireland Manager Martin O'Neill during the draw ©INPHO/Ryan Byrne

Sean Maguire's two prolific campaigns for Cork City have not been enough to gain a place in the Ireland senior squad thus far.

But the striker is now about to start his Preston North End career, as he makes a return to English football after an inauspicious spell there previously.  

Off The Ball's Nathan Murphy put the case of Maguire to Ireland manager Martin O'Neill at the Irish Daily Mail FAI Senior Cup Draw in the wake of a move to Preston that in terms of Ireland ambition should push him closer to international recognition.

"I'm sure and I'm hoping that would be part of his ambition anyway. He's got this opportunity now," said O'Neill.

"I'm not in a position to tell you much about him. I don't know the lad but from what I hear that he's a much more mature player now second time around going back to England.

Cork's Sean Maguire after playing his last game for the club ©INPHO/Philip Soteriou

He added that Maguire may have reevaluated his career after frustrations in England and initial difficulties after joining Dundalk, before continuing, "[Maguire had a] really big impact obviously last season and carrying that on. As I mentioned at the Cup draw. I thought the Cup Final, I thought it wasn't one of his best games and yet I thought the match against Dundalk that I saw, not only did he take the goals well but at the end of it all, I thought there was a marked improvement in his game, probably to do with confidence as much as anything else, coming off the back of a really good run.

"So for the likes of him, absolutely, everything to play for now. Go for it. First of all, try and make an impact at club level, get into the side and take it on and back yourself. I think that's the most important thing and I think the rest of the things will follow."  

O'Neill also discussed the form of Jeff Hendrick as the Burnley midfielder struggles to replicate what he showed at Euro 2016. With a recent court case in the past after Hendrick was found not guilty, O'Neill is also hopeful that Hendrick can now focus freely on matters on the pitch.

"It may well have done," said O'Neill in terms of the effect off the field matters may have had on the player.

"I don't think that you want things that are hanging around you like that. They could be potentially disconcerting. But it's good that it's cleared now."

Adding that Hendrick's form at the Euros was "fantastic", he acknowledged that it can take time for a player to recapture one's best form.

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