PNE’s pair of Corkers!

Kevin O'Connor at Deepdale
Kevin O'Connor at Deepdale

Preston’s visit to Fota Island has allowed the PNE squad to introduce themselves to Cork pair Sean Maguire and Kevin O’Connor who will join them later in the month.

Maguire and O’Connor had a light training session with Alex Neil’s group on Monday.

That was arranged when the deals for the pair were put in place last month.

But that won’t be the last North End see of them until July 24 when the signings take effect.

On Thursday night, the North End players will watch Maguire and O’Connor in Europa League action for Cork against AEK Larnaca.

It is the first leg of the second qualifying round, a Maguire hat-trick having helped City beat Levadia Tallinn last week.

The game will be Maguire and O’Connor’s farewell to Turner’s Cross – Cork’s home ground.

Their two remaining games are away – at Bray on Sunday and then the second leg against Larnaca in Cyprus.

Then they head to Preston to start life as PNE players.

Both agreed their moves when Simon Grayson was in charge but it will be Neil guiding them through their first steps at North End.

O’Connor said: “It’s a bit strange that the manager who signed you has got up and left but it’s a new chance for us, every one starts on a clean slate.

“Alex seems like a good coach. I look forward to working with him.”

Of the pair, it is Maguire’s impending move to PNE which has attracted most of the attention.

However, Cork boss John Caulfield thinks North End are getting a ‘phenomenal’ player in O’Connor.

Caulfield said: “Kevin probably isn’t getting any of the limelight because of the fact that Sean is the goalscorer.

“But Kevin has been with us for two-and-a-half years, he played midfield in the 2016 cup final and them moved to left-back. He’s been phenomenal here.”