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Preston announce signing of Ireland international Burke from Shamrock Rovers

The Championship club have added to their Irish contingent by securing the signature of the attacking midfielder.

GRAHAM BURKE WILL get a second chance to forge a successful career in England after his standout form for Shamrock Rovers was rewarded with a three-year move to Preston North End.

Large Burke at Preston's Deepdale home this afternoon. Source: Preston North End

The 24-year-old completed his move to the Championship club this evening after Shamrock Rovers accepted an undisclosed fee — believed to be in the region of €300,000 — for the attacker’s services.

Burke will play his final game for Rovers in the SSE Airtricity League Premier Division clash with Limerick on Friday before making the switch to Deepdale, where he will join fellow Irish players Daryl Horgan, Alan Browne, Sean Maguire, Kevin O’Connor and Andy Boyle.

The Dubliner, who spent four years with Aston Villa before returning to Ireland in 2017, has impressed during his time with Rovers and was last month handed a first Ireland cap in the defeat to France in Paris.

Burke then followed up his international debut with a first senior goal in the 2-1 defeat of USA at the Aviva Stadium, as he became the first League of Ireland player to score for Ireland in 40 years.

Commenting on his move to Preston, he said: “It was brilliant to hear the news of Preston North End’s interest. I was thrilled with the opportunity to have the chance to come to such a good club as this.

“It was also great to be joining a club where I know some of the boys, so it should help me settle in.”

Burke came through the same Aston Villa youth team as Irish-qualified striker Callum Robinson and Daniel Johnson, as well as being in the same Ireland squad as Horgan, Maguire, Boyle and Browne last month.

“I have kept a close eye on the club with the Irish players going over there and knowing the likes of Callum [Robinson] and DJ, so when I found out about the interest, it was a no brainer for me to try and get the deal done,” he continued.

“It is brilliant to be part of this group. Looking at last season, we finished just two points outside the Play-Offs and to do that with such a young group illustrates the hunger that is there and I have the same desire to get better as a football player.

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“All young players want to improve and the ambitions we have as individuals and as a group are to get into the Premier League and all the boys will be fighting for that.”

Graham Burke celebrates his goal with Darragh Lennihan Burke scored on his second camp against USA. Source: Laszlo Geczo/INPHO

In confirming Burke’s departure from Tallaght Stadium, Shamrock Rovers manager Stephen Bradley admitted he is sad to lose a player of that calibre but spoke of his delight for Burke, who had come back from England ‘a little bit broken.’

During his two seasons in the League of Ireland, Burke scored 22 goals in 48 appearances for the Hoops, including 12 goals this term.

“Graham is a special player that can change a game,” Bradley said. “I think he came to us a little bit broken but he’s matured both on and off the pitch. Obviously he has the ability but it’s his personality as well, his drive to be the best he can be.

“He’s put in a tremendous amount of work behind the scenes that people don’t see. He’s been excellent. It’s been an unbelievable journey so far for him and long may it continue. I’ve no doubt that Graham is the type of player who will go over there and shine. The higher the level he plays the better Graham will be.

“Only time will tell that but he’s got unbelievable ability and he makes things look ridiculously easy. His team-mates liked him for what he did on the pitch, for scoring goals, but more than that, it was around training.

“He does the right things and the icing on the cake was that he produced it on a Friday night. He’s a top player and a top person.

“Obviously they’ll all be sad to see him go, we all will, but it was great to have him for the time that we did.”

Burke’s arrival at Preston, who finished seventh in the Championship last season, comes on the same day the Lancashire club announced the sale of Ireland fullback Greg Cunningham to newly-promoted Cardiff City.

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