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Daryl Horgan: Flying the League of Ireland flag

Such was the scale of plaudits that greeted Daryl Horgan’s debut goal for Preston this weekend that one could be forgiven for assuming his was an overnight success.

The standing ovation to which he exited the pitch on Saturday spoke for the calibre of his performance, after all, onlookers on both sides of the Irish Sea enraptured by his stunning solo effort.

“I was very impressed with Daryl,” reflected new manager, Simon Grayson. “It’s funny because just before the goal we were looking to take him off, because he looked like he was starting fatigue a little. But then he just burst out of the blocks, took the shot on early and didn’t allow the keeper to get set.”

“He and Andy have settled in really quickly and hopefully a first goal with give his confidence a big boost, because he is a good player and a good lad who is willing to work.”

A sterling review indeed.

Full international honours are sure to follow for the 23-year-old, Horgan the latest to join a Deepdale production line which has already produced Irish stalwarts like Mark Lawrenson and Kevin Kilbane.

And while the Galway man’s recent ‘Brentrance’ will undoubtedly improve his level of opposition, it would be remiss to suggest that merely boarding a forty-minute flight to England has instantly made him a better player. In truth, Horgan’s own level of performance has long since taken the opposition out of the equation.

The winger’s body of work speaks to that end, transcendent displays from Sligo to St Petersburg mean his acquaintance with the Irish shirt should already be well-worn.

And while a call-up for the Austria game in November was beyond deserved, you always felt that selection was rooted in compulsion rather than design, Martin O’Neill seemingly bowing to public perception as much as his own.

The move from Ireland’s north-east to England’s north-end has likely changed that dynamic, Horgan now set to be a sure-fire feature of the Derryman’s plans going forward.

That he needed to leave Oriel Park in order to consolidate his place is presumably more bitter than sweet for the League of Ireland fraternity.

What is altogether more definite, however, is that should Horgan continue to translate his form from the white of Dundalk to that of Preston, plenty of outings in green are certain to follow.

RONAN MULLEN

This article originally appeared on The Season Ticket.

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