Sean Maguire’s stellar form for Cork City this season has heightened calls for the striker to be included in the Irish national setup.
The 23-year-old has scored nine goals in eleven Premier Divison games this season as John Caulfield’s side sit well ahead of the chasing pack at the top of the table, and Ireland manager Martin O’Neill has certainly been paying attention.
Speaking to RTE Sport on Friday, O’Neill insisted that he had no qualms about picking players from the League of Ireland (as he did with then-Dundalk duo Daryl Horgan and Andy Boyle last November and Gary Rogers in earlier squads), and stated that Maguire is certainly a player he was keeping an eye on:
“Of course I’d consider [Maguire].
“I have plucked players from the League of Ireland, and I’m not averse to that at all – absolutely not. I’ll have a look at it.
“The young lad’s done very, very well. I saw quite a few games last season; not so much this season I must admit, when he’s doing well.
“But it’s pretty easy for me to get the games now. In terms of bringing someone in, again, I’m not averse to that. I want them to feel as if they’ve earned that right.”
While Maguire’s form in the Premier Divison over the past 18 months has been strong, the clamour for his inclusion in the senior national side is fueled partly by the fact that Ireland currently have a shortage of clinical strikers. The decline and retirement and Robbie Keane in the past few years has meant that the goals have had to come from elsewhere and while O’Neill’s side have been good at that in the World Cup qualification campaign so far, it is not ideal.
“That has been a problem position for us. You’d have to say that over the last 15 years, only Robbie Keane has come up and scored the requisite number of goals.
“We’ve had to try and share the goals around. In the European Championships, Jon Walters came up very, very big for us, very big indeed, and from a wing position I have to say James McClean has as well in this particular campaign.
“Scoring goals at international level is difficult. It’s hard for that equation to be made.”
Despite recent rumours that Maguire would be named in the Ireland squad for the upcoming friendly against Uruguay in June, O’Neill earlier hinted that there would be no new callups this summer as that match (and the one against Mexico in New Jersey days earlier) would be used as a warm-up for the qualifier against Austria that same month.
Nonetheless, the more goals he scores for Cork City this season, the harder it will be for O’Neill to keep him ut of the Ireland side down the line.
On this week’s episode of the Mixer Irish Football podcast, we catch up with Cillian Sheridan, review all the latest fixtures and look ahead to this week’s League of Ireland matches.