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Ireland's man of the match relieved to break international goal duck

Sean Maguire admitted past performances for Ireland had not been good enough.

Sean Maguire was on target for Ireland against New Zealand last night.
Sean Maguire was on target for Ireland against New Zealand last night.
Image: Ryan Byrne/INPHO

A WORD IN the ear at half-time from Ireland’s greatest goalscorer helped inspire Sean Maguire to find the net for Ireland’s brilliant second last night.

The Preston attacker hit the top corner with a lethal finish, after Troy Parrott won the ball on the edge of the area, to put Ireland into the lead against New Zealand.

It was a case of persistence paying off for the former Cork City striker, who missed two good chances in the first half, with some encouragement from coach Robbie Keane spurring him on.

“It was probably my hardest chance of the whole night. I was frustrated, especially in the first-half — the one that [Kevin] Longy put over the top, that’s my bread and butter, one-on-one with the keeper and nine times out of 10, I would fancy myself to score. 

“But I felt I just had to keep on getting into the areas. Robbie told me at half-time, ‘Just keep doing what you’re doing, because you’re doing well, making runs in behind’ and stuff like that.

“It was the one time I actually didn’t really make a run in behind. Troy’s played it back to me and I’ve got it out of my feet and thankfully it’s gone in.”

It was Maguire’s first goal in his seventh international appearance. He made his debut in October 2017, but a mixture of injuries and indifferent form have restricted his chances since then.

The 25-year-old cited the two Euro 2020 qualifiers against Gibraltar in particular as matches where he could have done better.

“Look, I don’t want to make any excuses, but it wasn’t particularly a good game to be involved in, and I came off the bench against Gibraltar at home for half an hour and felt that again, I didn’t really put a performance in.

“But I did put a bit of added pressure on my myself before the game thinking, ‘I need to put a performance in tonight,’ and thankfully I thought I did and to top it off with a goal, it’s a dream come true, scoring for your country.

“When those caps keep building and you don’t see those goals going in, it gets really frustrating. It’s a weight off my shoulders, massively.”

It has been a positive few months at club level for Maguire too. With three goals in 14 Championship appearances, it is not quite akin to his freescoring days with the Leesiders. But with Preston second in the Championship, just two points behind leaders West Brom, the team have been going well, with Maguire operating in a wide attacking role.

I’ve been playing off the left for Preston pretty much every game this season. There are obviously stages of games where the gaffer at Preston puts me up top and when I play off that left, I don’t really play as a winger, I play a bit more as an inside-forward.

“You saw it there tonight — I was making runs down the right wing. I don’t really hug the touchline, I come inside and pick up pockets, and I felt I did that tonight, and it’s all eyes on Monday now.”

Pundits were not expecting Maguire to feature in the Euros qualifier against Denmark on Monday, but his goal and all-round display might just have given manager Mick McCarthy food for thought. 

“It’s a massive confidence boost as an individual, but also as a team, especially as it was obviously a frustrating month last month.

“We needed to get back to winning ways. I know New Zealand hadn’t played in a year and a half, but the boys were talking before the game, they have a lot of young players, a lot of quality players — you saw that tonight.

“They really popped the ball around and it could have been a sticky game with players on their team wanting to impress their new manager.

But to get through the game with three goals… I’m absolutely delighted for Robbo [Callum Robinson] as well. He’s a great mate of mine and to see him score tonight — he was in the exact same situation as me, where caps keep building and you don’t see those goals flying in.” 

Maguire continues: “It’s not really a type of goal that I normally score. The two chances I got in the first half, they’re the type of goals I score all the time.

“Hopefully I can kick on now. No disrespect to New Zealand, they hadn’t played in a year and a half, but it could have been a sticky game.

“But you only have to beat and score against what’s been put in front of you and thankfully I scored tonight.

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About the author:

Paul Fennessy

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