Exclusive Daryl Horgan PNE column

On the ball during my North End debut against Arsenal in the FA Cup at Deepdale
On the ball during my North End debut against Arsenal in the FA Cup at Deepdale
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It has been interesting to see the recent transfer speculation this week surrounding a famous fellow countryman of mine – a certain Robbie Keane.

There is talk that Robbie is looking for one last challenge in football after spending the past few years playing in the MLS with LA Galaxy.

According to a few 
reports, including in the Lancashire Post, my new club Preston are keen on signing him.

At the moment, it’s all paper talk and who knows whether he will be coming 
to Deepdale during this 
January transfer window.

If he was to come it would be great for me to play alongside someone who I grew up watching as a kid.

I remember the 2002 World Cup in Japan and South Korea when Robbie ‘ripped it up’ for Ireland, scoring three goals, including the last-minute equaliser against Germany.

He is the all-time leading goalscorer for his country – he has a phenomenal record. He’s scored 68 goals in 148 appearances.

I believe he is the joint fourth-highest scoring 
European of all-time – it’s 
unbelievable.

He is a legend in Ireland and it will be pretty exciting for me if he does come 
to North End, but it’s all 
speculation isn’t it?

There is so much going on at the minute, so we’ll just have to wait and see what happens.

I have never actually met Robbie. He has obviously now retired from the international set-up and was not in the squad when I was called up for the Irish squad in November for a World Cup qualifier against Austria.

If Robbie was to come, it would cap what has been a unbelievable year for me, which has seen me collect a third successive Irish Premier Division championship medal, play in Europe, earn my first full call-up for my country and, of course, earn a dream move to English football with Preston.

A few people have asked me whether I have had time to stop and pinch myself 
after what has happened, but if I’m being honest, I try not to because I want to grasp the opportunities that come my way.

When I think, it’s certainly has been an incredible few years for me since I signed for Dundalk in 2014.

To win three league titles in a row and also one FAI Cup with a club which nearly went bust two seasons previously was incredible.

Then we had the run in Europe where we almost became the first ever Irish club to reach the group stages of the Champions League.

I got the opportunity to play against some big clubs in Europe such as Legia 
Warsaw, Zenit St Petersburg and AZ Alkmaar.

With us doing so well in Europe, I then managed to get my first call-up for my country and the move here to Preston materialised.

It’s been a great first month for me at the club since signing late last year.

I managed to make my debut as a substitute against Arsenal in the FA Cup and then got my first start last week against Brighton in the Championship.

To get in the team so soon after arriving was slightly unexpected I suppose, but it was certainly the aim to come in, play and try to make an impact.

Watching the lads in the first half against Arsenal, I did wonder how I was going to get in the team because the boys played so well and we were a little unfortunate not to get through to the next round. I felt I did all right when I came on – I think the fact that I have played against some big clubs in Europe for Dundalk helped me but 
obviously Arsenal are 
Arsenal –they are one of the biggest clubs in the world.

We were delighted with the 2-0 win over Brighton, who were, of course, top of the league.

I was relatively pleased with my own performance. There are a few things I need to work on, but as a team I thought it was brilliant.

We nullified them, 
restricted them to mainly set-pieces and we controlled the ball for large parts of the game.

We broke on them well and deserved our victory. I was really pleased to get an assist for the second goal when I played Callum 
Robinson through, but to be fair, he still had a lot to do and finished it superbly. The manager brought me off with a few minutes to go and the fans gave me a great ovation, which I really appreciated.

So far everything has gone well and hopefully that will continue this weekend when we face Aston Villa, at Villa Park.

Confidence is high among the squad and I see no reason why we can’t push towards the play-offs if we can build a bit of momentum,