It's proving harder and harder not to get carried away with Sean Maguire
Once he got his first goal, Sean Maguire would be grand. But he would not stop there.
Tuesday night was a productive one for Irish talents over in England's Championship and League One.
While many eyes were on the Champions League group stages, a host of Irish stars were making their mark in league competition. Daryl Murphy [Nottingham Forest], Eoin Doyle and Jack Byrne [both Oldham] and Alan Browne all scored for their clubs. So, too, did Browne's Preston teammate Sean Maguire.
The 23-year-old has been in top form for P.N.E after signing for them from Cork City. He left City in great shape for an Airtricity League title and will be striving to help Preston push for Premier League promotion over the coming months.
In five league starts, Maguire has claimed three man-of-the-match awards. He has received two standing ovations when subbed off late in games - one in a home win and the other in a draw. He had an assist to his name coming into last weekend but had yet to hit the target.
Ireland supporters are desperate to have a goalscorer to get behind but it was hard to argue Maguire's case over someone like Shane Long or Murphy as all 23 of his goals in 2017 had been scored in a Cork jersey. There are certain assumptions made about the quality of the league - despite the recent exploits of Dundalk and Cork - that are often hard to get away from.
Maguire needs to prove he can find the net in England to stand any chance of forcing his way into the reckoning with Martin O'Neill. The Ireland boss recognises his talent and selected him for a wider squad ahead of the Georgia and Serbia games but cut him adift as the games neared.
O'Neill's logic was that it may be too much to ask a young forward to immediately come into a senior squad and show no fear on the international stage. Anyone that knows Maguire will tell you that he would relish such a challenge and back himself to make the difference.
Solid performances garner praise but goals get headlines and goals get attention. Two in two games - against Barnsley and Cardiff - have certainly seen to that.
What a find Sean Maguire is proving to be
— James Hall (@james_hall_96) September 12, 2017
Sean Maguire's a player 🔥 He'll bag at least 10-15 this season, if he stays clear of injury. #pnefc
— Dale (@dalewetter) September 12, 2017
Sean Maguire with another. ARE YOU WATCHING MARTIN O NEILL?????
— JT (@JamieTorpey) September 12, 2017
Sean Maguire has got the best first touch since Tony Ellis. What a player.
— Jonathan Richardson (@jonny_preston) September 12, 2017
Maguire has settled in well but there are four games in front of him before O'Neill names his squad for the Moldova and Wales double-header. The forward has either bolted too soon or, if he backs himself, will see this as only the start.
Birmingham, Millwall, Hull and Sunderland. They are the coming objectives.
He is close but, on suspects, he will need to do more yet to convince O'Neill he can lead the Irish line.
We have all been guilty of getting ahead of ourselves with promising Irish players over the years - Keith O'Neill, Stephen McPhail and Jack Byrne, to name three - but it is hard to sit on one's hands when watching Maguire in full flow.
While you're here, check out the latest episode of #SportsJOElive where we had Irish legends Shay Given and Clinton Morrison on the couch!
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