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Seanie for Ireland? Maguire not banking on a call-up as goals continue to flow

“I’ve got to keep doing what I’m doing and maybe one day I do put on that Irish shirt.”

Sean Maguire celebrates after scoring the winner in Cork City's recent game against Shamrock Rovers.
Sean Maguire celebrates after scoring the winner in Cork City's recent game against Shamrock Rovers.
Image: Tom Beary/INPHO

ANOTHER GOAL, ANOTHER man-of-the-match award, another day in the life of the SSE Airtricity League’s leading marksman.

Sean Maguire scored the opener in Cork City’s 3-0 win away to Limerick on Friday night, taking his tally for the season to eight goals in as many games.

A run that stretches back to last November’s FAI Cup final against Dundalk, when his extra-time goal won it for City, the 22-year-old has scored in all but one of his side’s last nine competitive outings.

Only in the 2-1 home win over Dundalk nine days ago did he draw a blank, and even then the prolific striker made up for it by setting up both goals for Karl Sheppard. Maguire is a man in form and his team are reaping the rewards. After seven games, Cork City have a six-point lead at the top of the Premier Division thanks to their 100% start.

His latest goal came at the end of a week in which Ireland failed to score in two separate international fixtures — against Wales and Iceland. Martin O’Neill isn’t spoiled for choice when it comes to his options up front, and calls for Maguire to be given an opportunity to impress are growing louder as the goals continue to flow.

The Kilkenny native has already represented his country at U21 level, and while a senior cap is something he’s aspiring to, Maguire still feels that he has plenty to learn before he’s in a position to expect a call-up.

“I don’t really take much notice of that. I know there was a bit of publicity about that alright but I feel like I have a lot to learn. I’m still young and still learning the game,” Maguire says.

Sean Maguire Maguire on the attack in Cork City's 2-1 Premier Division win over Dundalk. Source: Ryan Byrne/INPHO

“I’m just after coming out of the Irish U21s and obviously if I’m called upon I know I can step up to that level. But I don’t really look too much into it. It’s always nice to hear people saying there’s not many other Irish strikers out there scoring goals like that, but I’m going to keep my head down.

“I’m loving life at the moment. Scoring goals and winning games, I’ve got to keep doing what I’m doing and maybe one day I do put on that Irish shirt.”

Maguire was the League of Ireland’s top goalscorer last season, which was his first with Cork City following a move from Dundalk, where first-team opportunities were scarce for the striker after he returned from a spell with West Ham United.

In spite of his impressive 2016, the five-foot-nine goalscorer worked hard over the winter and subsequently believes he’s an improved player this year.

Maguire says: “Definitely. During the off-season I put in a lot of effort. Obviously you want to enjoy your Christmas but I had one eye on this season. In the off-season we put in a lot of hard work in the gym to come back physically stronger.”

He adds: “I did a lot of work in the off-season with Kevin Tattan, our sports scientist. Last year I felt I was lacking a bit of physicality and this year I feel like it doesn’t matter what size the centre-halves are because I know I can make my mark and do well.”

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As for his international ambitions, Maguire has taken inspiration from Daryl Horgan and Andy Boyle. The former Dundalk duo, now at Preston, made their Republic of Ireland debuts in Tuesday’s defeat to Iceland.

Sean Maguire celebrates scoring the first goal of the game as goalkeeper Brendan Clarke looks on dejected Maguire celebrates after beating Limerick goalkeeper Brendan Clarke on Friday night. Source: Ryan Byrne/INPHO

Both Horgan and Boyle had been called up to the squad during the latter stages of their time at Dundalk, but a player hasn’t been capped by Ireland while still playing domestically since Cork City’s Joe Gamble featured against Ecuador and Bolivia on a US tour 10 years ago.

If his current form continues, it seems inevitable that Maguire will be playing his club football abroad in 2018. However, receiving senior Ireland recognition while still representing Cork City is something he’d savour.

“Obviously that would be nice,” he says. “It was great for Daryl and Andy getting called up while playing in the league last year. I know they went on the run in Europe and I suppose that’s why they got called up because they were doing very well in those games.

“But this league is getting better, the standard is getting higher and people throughout Europe and all over the world are starting to look into this league. It’s a high standard.

“You have to be a player to understand the level of this league.”

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