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3 League of Ireland players who made the move to Britain in 2017, and 3 who could follow in 2018

Who will join the likes of Sean Maguire and Kevin O’Connor abroad next year?

3 League of Ireland players who made the move to Britain

1. Sean Maguire

Hull City v Preston North End - Sky Bet Championship - KCOM Stadium Source: EMPICS Sport

Maguire left Cork City midway through the 2017 season and still comfortably ended up as the League of Ireland’s top scorer with 20 goals (Dundalk’s David McMillan was the next highest with 16). Since joining Championship side Preston, he has not been as prolific, partially owing to the fact that he has been asked to adapt his game and play more of a wide attacking role at times. Nonetheless, the 23-year-old has already become a fan favourite at Deepdale, scoring four goals in 14 appearances for the club before a hamstring injury suffered in November put him out of action for a prolonged period.

2. Kevin O’Connor

Preston North End v Burnley - Pre-Season Friendly - Deepdale Source: Martin Rickett

Like Maguire, O’Connor made the move from Cork City to Preston in the summer transfer window. Yet the 22-year-old has not adapted quite as seamlessly as his fellow ex-League of Ireland player, finding game time hard to come by even with first-choice left-back and fellow Irishman Greg Cunningham unavailable due to a long-term injury. Yet O’Connor is still relatively young and inexperienced at Championship level, so he has plenty of time to add to the handful of appearances he has registered for Alex Neil’s side so far.

3. Conor O’Malley

Cambridge United v Peterborough United - Checkatrade Trophy - Southern Group H - Abbey Stadium Source: EMPICS Sport

A highly promising young goalkeeper, the 23-year-old made the switch from St Patrick’s Athletic to Peterborough United back in August. The latter club’s chairman Darragh MacAnthony was full of praise for the starlet upon signing him, describing O’Malley as “the best young goalkeeper in Ireland,” and though he has yet to establish himself as a first-team regular, the Mayo native has already made a couple of first-team appearances for the League One side.

3 who could follow

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1. Patrick McEleney

Patrick McEleney Source: Ryan Byrne/INPHO

A player who has long been linked with a move abroad, McEleney continues to enhance his reputation in the League of Ireland. Though Dundalk’s title bid ultimately fell short, McEleney was one of the Lilywhites’ standout players throughout the 2017 campaign. The 25-year-old scored 10 goals overall, including a few crackers. In recent times, Coventry, Blackburn and Oldham have all been linked with a move for the Derry native, who is believed to now be close to sealing a move to a League One side.

2. Chiedozie Ogbene

Chiedozie Ogbene celebrates Source: Ryan Byrne/INPHO

One of the League of Ireland’s brightest attacking talents, Chiedozie Ogbene made a big call ahead of the 2017 season, leaving Cork City in search of regular first-team football. The 20-year-old subsequently established himself as one of Limerick’s key players, scoring eight goals as they successfully avoided relegation and finished seventh ultimately.

3. Trevor Clarke

Trevor Clarke 16/9/2017 Source: Tommy Dickson/INPHO

Still only 19, Clarke has already had quite the career. The former Crumlin United and St Kevin’s Boys youngster had a stint playing underage football with Middlesbrough. Since returning to Ireland in 2015, he has taken little time to establish himself in the Shamrock Rovers first team. After a number of impressive displays at senior level, the Dubliner, who can play in midfield or at left-back, has been linked with a couple of English clubs, including Barnsley and Southampton.

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