At the end of last season, Seanie Maguire was the difference between Cork and Dundalk in the FAI Cup final; his one goal in an overall dreary game represented a change in times, the end of Dundalk’s three year dominance.
This year it has been all Cork – they’ve been ruthless all year, and no more than against Dundalk last Friday night.
Maguire was the difference on this occasion as well; scoring a hat trick in front of Martin O’Neill and Roy Keane.
After the game, former Ireland manager Brian Kerr said that the Kilkenny native would need to do it at a higher level to gain the illustrious International cap.
It seems as though Martin O’Neill is of the same opinion, reiterating that while they are monitoring Maguire – there are several people in front of him.
The issue with Maguire is that there is no real issue other than his club. His 19 goals in 23 games this season is ignored because they came in the Irish leagues.
The same situation came when Daryl Horgan starred for Dundalk last season – his exploits in the League of Ireland and in Europe didn’t hold as much credibility as his 19 appearances for Preston this season.
Horgan has since earned a spot on the Ireland bench and, depending on how Maguire transitions across, one can assume he will be allowed the same opportunity.
The difference between Horgan and Maguire is that Ireland had plenty of replacements in Horgan’s position – O’Neill had five or six replacements in midfield but he does not have the same luxury up front.
Shane Long struggled for Southampton throughout the year, O’Neill prefers Jon Walters in a wider position and Kevin Doyle is well past his best years.
That leaves, Daryl Murphy, who has featured just 14 teams since joining Newcastle United or opt for James McClean up front.
There’s a fault in thinking Maguire couldn’t do it on the international stage while he is at Cork, yet he could if he was now a Preston player.
It may not work out for Maguire in Preston for a whole host of reasons, but the biggest test will be breaking into the team.
So then the question is whether or not he will get the call up simply because he plays for a Championship squad.
If this is the case, the very fact an English club has taken the gamble on him should show the judgement on him should be on his performances and they have merited the risk.
Eighteen goals last year, and 19 goals so far this year shows that he can be a top scoring striker consistently and this is something Ireland are calling out for.
Dundalk’s endeavors in Europe last year showed that being a top team in Ireland isn’t as small a feat as it once was.
Whether at Preston or Cork City, a striker on course to break 20 goals deserves a call up to a country who badly needs a goalscorer.
This is a sure and simple case for Seanie Maguire.