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'Incredible' Maguire needed less than two-thirds of the season to equal club record

“The thing you must remind Pat Morley of is that there’s still 12 games to go,” said John Caulfield.

Sean Maguire celebrates scoring a goal with his team mates Sean Maguire celebrates after scoring his 20th Premier Division goal of the season. Source: Bryan Keane/INPHO

CORK CITY MANAGER John Caulfield has heaped praise on Sean Maguire after the striker reached another milestone in yesterday’s win over Bray Wanderers.

Before providing an assist for Jimmy Keohane to double City’s advantage late in the game, Maguire gave City the lead in the first half of a 2-0 victory at the Carlisle Grounds as they extended their lead over Dundalk at the top of the table to 15 points, with a game in hand to come.

Maguire’s 20th strike of the 2017 Premier Division campaign saw him equal Pat Morley’s club record for the most goals scored in a league season in the top flight, but the 23-year-old admitted afterwards to being “a bit gutted” at not setting a new record in his final league game as a Cork City player.

The Kilkenny native, along with City left-back Kevin O’Connor, will join English Championship club Preston North End after the second leg of the Leesiders’ Europa League second round qualifier against AEK Larnaca in Cyprus on Thursday.

Caulfield told reporters after yesterday’s game: “He’s a goal short of doing the club record, which is a bit unfortunate for him. Before the game we were saying ‘if you get two today you get the club record’, so he’ll keep Pat Morley happy for a while anyway. But the thing you must remind Pat Morley of is that there’s still 12 games to go.”

Pat Morley and John Caulfield celebrates 12/12/1999 Pat Morley celebrates with John Caulfield after scoring for Cork City against UCD in December 1999. Source: Billy Stickland/INPHO

Maguire departs Cork City having scored 20 goals in just 21 league games this season. Yesterday’s opener in Bray took his overall tally to 26 in all competitions in 2017, and 55 in 74 appearances since he joined City at the beginning of last season after being unable to make a breakthrough during a six-month spell with Dundalk.

Pat Morley twice hit the 20-goal mark in the league during his time as a Cork City player. Morley — who along with Caulfield is the club’s joint all-time leading scorer with 129 goals — did so in 1992-93 (in 37 games) and 1999-00 (33 games). Graham Cummins, who also went on to join Preston North End, scored 24 goals in 30 games for City in 2011 — but in the First Division*.

“He’s been an incredible guy to manage. He has tremendous talent and ability, very strong-willed,” Caulfield said in relation to Maguire, who became City’s all-time leading goalscorer in European competition earlier this month courtesy of a hat-trick against Levadia Tallinn.

“He went through a period when it didn’t happen for him and he lost his confidence. That can happen. There was no magic in it. He put his head down and he was determined that when he got the opportunity he would take it. I would say not only did he take it, he has gotten better. There’s no doubt that he’s much better this year than he was last year — and last year he was good.

Sean Maguire says goodbye to fans after the game Maguire acknowledges Cork City supporters after playing his final SSE Airtricity League game for the club. Source: Bryan Keane/INPHO

“You have to give him credit because there’s been so much media speculation for five or six months and it has never thrown him or knocked him off his stride. He’s been so focused and so good in training. Everything he’s gotten he deserves. We certainly wish him well in going to the next step to prove that he’s a fantastic goalscorer. I think if he’s given game-time it will happen for him.”

* Stats via Cork City historian Gerry Desmond

Another Maguire masterclass as the City striker waves goodbye to the League of Ireland

‘I felt like I wanted to give up… I rang my ma and told her I was done with football’

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