Greg is ready to welcome Cork City duo to Deepdale

Preston North End's Greg Cunningham
Preston North End's Greg Cunningham
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Greg Cunningham admits he can’t wait to welcome two new faces to Preston North End’s ever-increasing Irish contingent.

The formal arrivals of Cork City duo Sean Maguire and Kevin O’Connor on Monday will take the number of Deepdale players from the Emerald Isle to seven.

The pair have starred for the League of Ireland leaders, Republic of Ireland internationals Daryl Horgan and Andy Boyle having done the same for Dundalk before they made the move to the Championship in January.

Alan Browne, Eoin Doyle and Cunningham himself are the other Irish players in Alex Neil’s squad with loan star Aiden McGeady having followed Simon Grayson to Sunderland.

The new pair come with growing reputations.

Maguire has 20 League of Ireland goals to his name so far this season while O’Connor has impressed down the left-hand side for John Caulfield’s side.

Like Boyle and Horgan before them they will be hoping to take that form into England’s second tier when the season kicks off at home to Sheffield Wednesday, August 5.

“The more the merrier,” said Cunningham.

“We went to watch them in their European game when we were in Cork training the other week.

“It was good to get a look at them and I look forward to having them over now.

“It will be great to have them.

“Cork are dominating the league back home and I keep an eye on how my team Galway United are doing.

“With Cork doing so well you do keep an eye on Seani scoring for fun and Kevin coming in at left back will be great for competition.

“It’s an easy dressing room for them to settle into.

“They’re a great bunch of lads and if you get your head down and work hard then you’ll have no problem.

“We’re looking forward to having them over and we’ll see if we can get any more Irish fellas in January!”

PNE host Newcastle United at Deepdale today as they step up their preparations for the new campaign by facing last year’s title winners.

The Magpies sealed promotion in front of the Sky cameras with a 4-1 win over the Lilywhites at St James’ Park back in April.

That came on the back of a 6-0 hammering in North East in the EFL Cup in October.

North End ran Rafa Benitez’s close in the league meeting at Deepdale however, Newcastle prevailing 2-1 with Jermaine Beckford feeling he was denied a clear late penalty.

The Magpies are now looking ahead to life in the Premier League and will provide a sterner test for Alex Neil’s side who have so far picked up wins over Bamber Bridge, Stockport, Morecambe and Accrington.