Ex-PNE man tapping into Irish talent
Former Preston midfielder Michael Keane thinks the League of Ireland has more players who could follow in the footsteps of Daryl Horgan and Andy Boyle.
The January arrivals from Irish champions Dundalk both won their first Republic of Ireland caps in Tuesday’s friendly against Iceland at the Aviva Stadium.
They had made an impact at Deepdale with North End, Horgan from the word go and Boyle more recently.
Dublin-born Keane started his career at PNE and made his debut in May 2001 when he was 18.
He went on to play 65 games before joining Hull City in 2004.
Keane is back living in Dublin and keeps a close eye on the potential talent in the Irish game.
The 34-year-old would like to link up with North End to try and push Irish players their way.
“There is a lot of quality in Ireland and I do seem to have an eye for spotting it,” Keane told the Post.
“I have spoken with Nick Harrison from North End’s academy about it.
“Daryl Horgan was a player I was talking about long before he started to attract interest from clubs in England.
“He has done really well since joining Preston and so has Andy Boyle.
“There are lots of talented footballers in the League of Ireland who could also do very well in England.
“The early bird catches the worm as they say and it is a case of spotting them at a young age.
“Over here, the players don’t get the training they need at an early age.
“That is developing but the standard of coaching they can get in the UK is higher.
“My affection for North End is very high and it would be great if I could get to sort something out with them.
“I wouldn’t want anything until a player did well and got into the first team.”
Dundalk’s good run in Europe helped raise the profile of the domestic game in the Republic of Ireland.
Horgan and Boyle featured in their side which reached the final qualifying round of the Champions League.
Dundalk then went into the Europa League group stage, Horgan scoring in a 2-1 defeat against Zenit St Petersburg in Russia.
PNE tracked their progress in that run and agreed deals with them in December.