PNE pop the Cork

Preston North End could be set to make it a Cork City double.

Monday, 5th June 2017, 7:00 am
Preston North End boss Simon Grayson has once again looked to the League of Ireland for new recruits

After making prolific striker and long-time target Sean Maguire their first summer signing on Saturday, reports in Ireland suggest team-mate Kevin O’Connor will follow him to Deepdale.

Maguire will link up with the Lilywhites at the end of July, signing a three-year deal after a compensation package was agreed with the runaway League of Ireland leaders.

Left-back O’Connor, a 22-year-old former Republic of Ireland Under-21s international, is another key part of the side that now sits 18 points clear at the top of the table

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PNE sources are remaining tight-lipped on whether their Irish contingent will expand even further.

A double deal brought Daryl Horgan and Andy Boyle from then League of Ireland champions Dundalk to Lancashire in January.

Alan Browne, formerly of Cork City himself, Greg Cunningham and Eoin Doyle were already at the club, with Republic of Ireland great Aiden McGeady spending last season on loan with Simon Grayson’s side from Everton.

Maguire, 23, has scored 19 goals in 20 appearances this season and was watched by the Preston boss and Peter Ridsdale, advisor to owner Trevor Hemmings, in April.

The former West Ham youngster has built on an excellent 2016 which saw him score in Cork’s Europa League run and finish as the League of Ireland top’s marksman, scoring 29 goals in the calendar year.

His move back to England was confirmed hours after he scored a hat-trick in Cork’s 3-0 win at Dundalk on Friday night.

Cork manager, John Caulfield, paid him a glowing tribute when the move was confirmed on Saturday morning.

“Since coming to the club Seani has been fantastic for us,” he said.

“His attitude, work-rate, determination and mental toughness has got him to this position and this is a fantastic opportunity for him.

“When he joined us, he was a bit low in confidence but he settled in quickly with this incredible bunch of players and showed he had the resilience and determination to find his form and get his self-belief back.

“Whilst you never want to lose a player of Seani’s quality, we are delighted to have worked with Preston so that he can remain with us until the end of July.”

It is believed the 2016 PFAI Young Player of the Year will officially join on July 24.

He will fill one of the striking vacancies in the squad, Jermaine Beckford and Simon Makienok having left, while Eoin Doyle could link up once again with Paul Cook at Wigan.