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McLoughlin ignoring cross-channel transfer speculation after breakout season

The Cork City defender has attracted interest from the UK following an impressive showing in 2018.

Sean McLoughlin meets President Michael D Higgins before playing for Ireland U21s against Germany.
Sean McLoughlin meets President Michael D Higgins before playing for Ireland U21s against Germany.
Image: INPHO/Oisin Keniry

CORK CITY DEFENDER Sean McLoughlin is hoping to return to Premier Division action for tomorrow night’s meeting with rivals Dundalk.

The SSE Airtricity League’s top two clubs for the past five seasons will meet at Oriel Park in a game which will be televised live on RTÉ 2 (7.45pm kick-off).

McLoughlin had been sidelined with a hamstring injury sustained in the draw against Derry City on 1 March, but he was introduced as a substitute in last weekend’s Munster Senior Cup final win against Midleton.

His availability will be a boost for Cork City after he enjoyed a breakout season with John Caulfield’s side in 2018, which saw the Cobh native rewarded with inclusion in the PFAI Team of the Year. He also made his Republic of Ireland U21 debut in a European Championship qualifier against Germany last September.

City have rebuffed expressions of interest in McLoughlin from several UK clubs. He also previously turned down an approach from Scottish club Dundee to sign a professional deal with Cork City in 2017, which would allow him to complete a degree in Business Information Systems at University College Cork.

While McLoughlin admits that he has ambitions of testing himself across the water, the 22-year-old centre-back says he hasn’t paid attention to speculation surrounding his future.

“Obviously there’s going to be talk if you play well in a few games,” he said. “The main thing for me really is to focus on Cork City. There’s no point speculating and taking the eye off the ball.

“I experienced that last year and I was able to deal with it. If it happens again this year — I don’t know if it will! — it doesn’t affect me, no. Every young footballer would like to play over there at the highest level, but I just have to focus on Cork.”

Sean McLoughlin McLoughlin playing for Cork City against Dundalk in the 2018 FAI Cup final. Source: Tommy Dickson/INPHO

After a rocky start to the 2019 campaign, Cork City steadied the ship somewhat with a hard-fought win at Finn Harps before overcoming a previously-undefeated Bohemians side.

They go into tomorrow night’s game in Louth two points behind their opponents. Leaders Shamrock Rovers, who have played two games more, have a seven-point lead over Dundalk. 

“We started slowly in the first few games, but more recently we’ve got two wins back-to-back and we’re just trying to build on that,” said McLoughlin.

“We knew it was going to be a tough league from the start, teams like [Shamrock] Rovers coming into it, so I think if we’re right up there in the mix, which we have been, it’ll be a good season for us.”

Looking ahead to City’s clash with champions Dundalk, McLoughlin said: “It’s not going to decide the season, but there are a few big fixtures and if we can get points from them it’d be great.

“We just have to be disciplined. The conditions won’t be great so it’s about knowing when to play, trying to stop them but also using our strengths as well. We’ve gone up there and got results there and we’ll definitely be looking to do the same.”

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Paul Dollery

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