President’s Cup: Sean Maguire happy to ‘mature’ at Cork City
‘I had offers to leave but I wanted to stay, to show people that I’m still getting better’
Last season’s Airtricity League top scorer. Photograph: Inpho
Like his manager and team, Sean Maguire believes he still has a point to prove to some of the sceptics as he prepares to face Dundalk for the first time this season in Friday night’s President’s Cup final.
The 22 year-old finished his first season at Turner’s Cross as the league’s top scorer and got the decisive goal in November’s FAI Cup final but the striker believes he has unfinished business with the southerners as they look to topple their rivals and win this year’s title.
“I was really happy with last season and the number of goals that I scored but a lot of people seemed to think it was a one off and so I want to show them that they are wrong,” he says as he gears up for a season he believes can be even better than 2015.
“I had offers to leave but that was one of the reasons I wanted to stay, to show people that I’m still getting better, to mature a bit here with Cork City.
“I’ve said before that I felt I owed the manager (John Caulfield) some loyalty after the faith he showed in me when he signed me, that kick-started my career, and that was a big part of it too. And he still believes in me which is obviously really important for me.
“And some of the offers I had didn’t seem great for a player of my age (22). Really, at this stage, I wasn’t sure that I should be going away unless I was almost guaranteed of playing but I didn’t think that was going to be the case. I spoke with my father, who has a big influence on what I do, and in the end it was an easy decision to make.”
Caulfield has cut numbers but, he believes, added a bit of quality and competition for places. Still, it is hard to imagine the club improving on last year’s second place without Maguire scoring a lot of goals again. Last time, there were 18 in the league which would take some matching but the younger striker, while not setting specific targets, believes he can be a better player during the months ahead.
“I feel a lot stronger than I did last year and I think I will be quicker too. I did okay last year but you always want to improve and I’ve worked very hard to be better physically.
“I think everybody at the club looked after themselves over the Christmas, you could see that when we came back, we didn’t have to spend loads of time getting fit, we were able to get on to working with the ball in the second week, and I’m feeling the benefits of the work that I’ve done.
“It’s hard to see in preseason when everyone is getting a run and you’re maybe getting 60 minutes of each game but I think people will start to see it now and like everyone else here I’m looking forward to the President’s Cup game against Dundalk.”
John Dunleavy misses the game through injury while Alan Bennett is likely to sit it out too, and there has been talk of Kenny Browne making a surprise switch to Waterford but Caulfield has the bulk of his squad to choose from and the game will provide the firmest indication yet of where new signings like Achille Campion, Conor McCormack and Jimmy Keohane are likely to fit in.
“The new lads have come in done really well so far but this is a test for us. People will say the President’s Cup is only a friendly but it’s Dundalk and there’s a cup to be won so we don’t look at it that way. We’re all looking forward to it but we want to win.”