As Sean Maguire, and potentially Kevin O’Conner, depart Cork City for Preston North End, we examine some players who may not be far behind them.
The League of Ireland has become a scouting base for English clubs with many of the current Irish squad consisting of former League of Ireland players.
The league continues to grow in popularity but the pull of the riches and progression the English game has to offer will always be difficult to turn down.
Patrick McEleney (Dundalk)
Having experienced English football, with the Sunderland youth set-up, Patrick McEleney may fancy his chances of another crack across the water. McEleney has stepped up for Dundalk since the departure of Daryl Horgan and has shown his dazzling feet and finishing this season.
Dundalk will be a well-watched team following their European exploits last season and overseas scouts will be aware of McEleney’s capabilities. Peterborough and Brentford have shown interest in the past and it may not be long before the former Derry City man finds himself in the Championship or League One.
Aaron McEneff (Derry City)
A former Spurs academy prospect, McEneff is becoming a key player for his hometown club Derry City. A defensive midfielder, the 21-year-old has plenty of poise and composure on the ball in addition to his attritional defensive game.
He also showed his ability to score goals as he bagged a brace recently in Derry’s 3-1 win over Shamrock Rovers. Bears big similarities in his playing style to Ireland international Eunan O’Kane and could easily end up playing on the same stage as him in years to come.
Trevor Clarke (Shamrock Rovers)
The former Middlesbrough youth has been one of the League of Ireland’s most exciting players this season. A left-back by trade, Clarke has been used in a more advanced role by Stephen Bradley with his pace and crossing abilities being put to good use. Part of the impressive Ireland under-19 set-up, Clarke looks like one of the most capable players in the league making a move across the water.
However, he currently looks like he is loving his football and thriving at Rovers. Clarke looks like a future international but may benefit from a stay at Tallaght for another season or two.
— Soccer Republic (@SoccRepublic) May 27, 2017
Darragh Markey (St. Patrick’s Athletic)
Having finally broken into the St Pat’s team, Darragh Markey is showing the bit of quality the Inchicore side have lacked this season. A product of the famous Cherry Orchard youth set-up, Markey bears a very similar playing style to former Pat’s players Chris Forrester.
A light but technically gifted player, Markey can glide past opponents and is a player with tremendous pace. Still only 20, he is one of the many talents emerging from Irish football.
Dylan Connolly (Bray Wanderers)
Having already spent time in England with Mick McCarthy’s Ipswich Town, Dylan Connolly may be looking for a swift return to the UK. Tipped to replace Daryl Horgan at Dundalk, the former Ireland U-21 international remained with ambitious Bray.
Blessed with lightening pace, Connolly has alternated into the centre-forward position with the Seagulls and has shown his finishing capabilities. Made the wise decision to return to the League of Ireland and, like Richie Towell before him, could use it as a platform to secure a big move away.
Nick Menezes, Pundit Arena