'It's probably the best feeling of my life': Maguire revels in long-awaited debut

Sean Maguire made his international debut as Ireland beat Moldova 2-0 on Friday night.

Sean Maguire makes his debut coming on for Shane Long Sean Maguire replaces Shane Long. Source: Ryan Byrne/INPHO

Updated at 9.00

SEAN MAGUIRE DESCRIBED making his much-anticipated international debut as “the best feeling of his life” following Ireland’s 2-0 victory against Moldova in Dublin on Friday night.

A brace from Daryl Murphy earned Ireland a crucial three points in Group D, which sets up what could prove to be a winner-takes-all showdown against Wales on Monday night with a playoff position potentially up for grabs in Cardiff.

Maguire replaced Shane Long after 83 minutes, marking a remarkable turn of events for the 23-year-old who was released from West Ham United as a teenager before stays at Dundalk and Cork City in the League of Ireland saw him return to England in July.

“It’s probably the best feeling of my life,” he said speaking to RTE after the final whistle.

“It’s a proud moment for my family and for me of course. To soak up that atmosphere on that pitch — the last time I stepped onto that pitch we won the FAI Cup with Cork City.”

Maguire last played in Lansdowne Road when he scored the winning goal in the 2016 FAI Cup final for Cork City, one year on from failing to make the bench for opponents Dundalk in the same fixture a year previous.

“To get back onto that pitch and finally get my first international cap is a dream come true,” he said.

The player is still the League of Ireland’s top goalscorer with 21 goals in 21 games for City in 2017, before departing for Preston North End during the summer transfer window where he has started promisingly with two goals in nine games in the Championship.

Sean Maguire Maguire has impressed since joining Preston North End in July. Source: Ryan Byrne/INPHO

He reflected that the pace and intensity of international football was of a higher level than he had experienced before, with the player stating in the build-up to Friday’s game that he was more than capable of handling the demands.

“Once you get the ball at your feet they’re going to be on top of you. You won’t have the chance to take that second or third touch. It was good to get a few touches and get on for five minutes,” he said.

The striker replaced Southampton forward Long, with Maguire reflecting that it was an honour to replace another former Cork City player and a hero of his growing up.

“He just said ‘go out and enjoy it and do your thing’”, Maguire said of Long.

“He’s been a great help for me over the last few days giving me tips. He’s a player that I’ve looked up to from a young age, idolised him in every single way because I think I compare myself to him as the type of striker he is.

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“He works hard and scores goals. It was a strange but an amazing feeling coming on the pitch for your idol,” he said.

Supporters have called for Maguire’s inclusion in the senior squad for some time following consistent performances for league leaders City in the SSE Airtricity League, with the player simply noting how big of an honour it was for the moment to finally arrive to pull on the green jersey.

He said: “You know, it’s hard to put into words because two years ago… I’ve come a long way. It’s just a big honour for myself and my family.”

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