Cork City fans’ worst fears were confirmed on Saturday morning when it was announced that the striker would be joining Preston North End in January.
The 23-year-old reminded City fans of what they’ll be missing on Friday night as he scored a hat-trick to put John Caulfield’s side in even more of a commanding lead in the Premier Division title race, an ominous 18 points clear of their defeated opponents Dundalk.
While Maguire will remain at Turner’s Cross until the end of July, attention must surely be beginning to turn to who can replace the striker in City’s starting lineup. With that in mind, who could fill the void left by the 16-goal forward when he leaves for Deepdale later this summer.
Maguire may be the main attacking threat for Cork City this season, but Sheppard’s form hasn’t gone unnoticed either. The former Shamrock Rovers man has scored an impressive eight goals this year predominantly from a wide position. It’s no secret that the 26-year-old prefers to play through the middle, and given the fact that a simple tactical rejig could allow for the smoothest transition, it might be the best course of action for Caulfield.
In terms of backup, young Connor Ellis already looks in good stead to make the step up to have more game time, while Achille Campion could also see more minutes.
The star of Dundalk’s 2014 title win left the League of Ireland to move to Oxford that same year, but it hasn’t really worked out for the 25-year-old in England. Now a free agent having been released by League Two side Mansfield Town, early murmurings in Ireland have linked Hoban with a move to Turners Cross.
Having helped break City hearts three years ago, he could soon find himself right in the thick of their title charge.
Former Shamrock Rovers striker Drennan walked away from football in early 2016 due to depression, but has made tentative noises about returning to the League of Ireland. At just 23, Drennan still has his whole career ahead of him, and considering City (and Bray Wanderers) reportedly approached him earlier this year, he is still very much a man in demand.
With a space in the Leesiders’ attack soon becoming available, Drennan may feel that now is the time to make his LOI comeback.
He’s going to have to sign for a new club eventually, and although Keane still sees his level as (at worst the English Championship, the longer he goes without a club, the less attractive he is to potential new employers across the water.
A slightly fanciful notion perhaps, and he’s probably more likely to link up with Damien Duff at Shamrock Rovers if he ever does decide to play in the League of Ireland, but offering Keane a short-term deal in order to ensure the goals don’t start to dry up could be at least something worth exploring.
Of course, given the fact that Caulfield dismissed the Dave Mooney rumours due to the fact that his game wouldn’t be compatible with City’s pacy attacks, it would be interesting to see how the 36-year-old Keane would factor into that.
On this week’s episode of the Mixer Irish football podcast, we take a look at a big ten days for Martin O’Neill’s side as well as the usual review of the latest League of Ireland action.