Joy for PNE's Maguire after getting off the mark
Sean Maguire admitted to a big sense of relief at scoring his first goal in Preston North End colours at the weekend.
The Irishman arrived at Deepdale having netted a bagful of goals for Cork City in the League of Ireland and the Europa League.
Maguire can now add the Championship to that list, having headed PNE in front in Saturday’s 1-1 draw with Barnsley.
Having got one, he hopes to continue on the scoring trail against Cardiff City at Deepdale.
“It was a great feeling to score, I’ve got to admit,” said Maguire.
“Scoring goals at Cork was something I’d been doing regularly, so I was anxious to do that here.
“When I scored against Barnsley, I forgot myself a bit and you could see that with the celebration.
“It was a big weight off my shoulders and hopefully I can keep that going.”
Maguire owed much to Tom Barkhuizen for his goal, the winger teeing him up with a fine cross.
And the 23-year-old was quick to praise his team-mate for the assist.
“When I first got the ball, I saw Tom on the left-hand side and passed to him,” Maguire said.
“If ever I see Tom get one-on-one with any defender in this division, I’m going to give him the ball.
“He got some space to put over the cross and really I only had to let it hit my head because it was such a good ball.
“Tom’s been tremendous this season and not really got the credit he deserves.
“He played his part in the goal Jordan Hugill scored against Reading last month.
“With the goal, I hung back a bit before making my run into the box.
“That is something which I have been working on with the gaffer and it was nice to see it work.”
The Barnsley draw moved North End on to nine points from their six games.
It is a good start when you bear in mind last month’s fixtures and in the view of Maguire, it could have been even better.
“At the start of the season, I suppose if someone had said you would have nine points after six games, you would have taken it probably,” said Maguire who has started the last three games.
“But when you look back at some of the games – Leeds away, Middlesbrough away, which we could have won, and Barnsley too – we could have been higher up.
“We play Cardiff next and that will be tough, as they all are in this league.
“Cardiff have started very well and are top of the league but our approach has to be the same as it is for every game.
“When you start to treat any team differently, that is when things can start to go wrong.
“Our preparation will be the same as it is for any game and that will continue as the season goes on.”
Maguire has shown a high degree of versatility since he arrived in Lancashire.
He started the season’s opener as the No.9 against Sheffield Wednesday. Alex Neil has used him wide – both on the left and right – before starting him in the No.10 role behind Hugill on Saturday.
Being more central in the support role certainly helped him be in the right place for Saturday’s goal.
Said Maguire: “At Cork I was playing as the lone striker.
“It has been a bit different here, I’ve played right the way across the front four, which I have really enjoyed.
“On Saturday, the gaffer wanted me to get nearer to Jordan and get the second balls from him.
“It was a bit of a big man/little man partnership if you like and we have a really good relationship.
“When we had the ball, it was a case of getting up there next to Jordan.
“But when Barnsley got it, I would drop off to give Alan Browne and Paul Gallagher a hand in midfield.”
Maguire’s first PNE goal came in front of Republic of Ireland assistant coach Roy Keane, a fairly regular visitor over the last couple of years to Deepdale.
That could be timely in terms of Maguire’s future international hopes.
He made a provisional squad for the recent World Cup qualifiers with Georgia and Serbia, but missed the final cut.
So finding his scoring form could open the way for a place in the Ireland squad for October’s make-or-break qualifiers against Moldova and Wales.
“I was told he (Keane) was at the game,” said Maguire.
“He is probably based in Manchester and there are a lot of Irish boys here, so I think he gets to quite a few of the games.
“I can’t read too much into it, I’ll take things game by game.
“I look to impress anyone who is at the game whoever they might be.
“My aim is to continue working hard and hopefully score more goals for Preston, push on from here.”