This article originally appeared on The Season Ticket.
Sean Maguire has become the latest Irish player to join Preston.
News broke that the 23 year old Cork City striker had agreed a deal with the Championship club less than 24 hours after he bagged a hat-trick in a 3-0 victory over his old side Dundalk.
Daryl Horgan, Andy Boyle, Eoin Doyle, Alan Browne, Greg Cunningham and Aiden McGeady (on loan from Everton) are all on the books at the English club, but they aren’t the first Irishmen to play for the club.
Brian Mooney is regarded as one of the finest players to pull on a Preston jersey. The ‘king of the plastic’ – named for his performances on the artificial surface at Deepdale – is regarded as one of the club’s best ever players, and was beloved by the fans during the 1980s.
The Dubliner left Home Farm for Liverpool after his Leaving Cert in 1983, and later become a cult hero at Preston before returning to the Ireland after a short stint at Sunderland.
David Smith caught up with the former Irish underage international to discuss playing with Kenny Dalglish, playing for Ireland against England, and the highs and lows of his playing career.
“It was very daunting arriving in Anfield in August 1983 just after finishing my Leaving Cert and the commencing training with the likes of Kenny Dalglish, Ian Rush, Graeme Souness and the rest of the squad of the time, as they were all boyhood heroes of mine,” Brian said.
The former Ireland u21 international says that Kenny Dalglish is the best player he’s played with, and also regards the iconic Scotsman as the best coach he worked under.
“Kenny Dalglish was the best player I ever played with and the best player I ever played against. He is a huge hero of mine and obviously a Legend at Liverpool. He was the best manager/coach I played under and he gave me my debut for Liverpool. I thought he would have gone on and been more successful as a manager/coach.
“Probably the best moment of my career for me was making my debut for Liverpool’s first team. Although I only played a handful of games in the first team, it was a great honour to play in a team that was probably the best team in Europe at the time and nobody can take that away from you.”
That debut came in a 1-0 victory over Fulham in the League Cup at Anfield in October 1986, but it was at Preston that Mooney played his best football. Â He dazzled defenders and excited fansÂ as a skillful winger, and he’s a big fan of Daryl Horgan, who moved to Preston after shining for Dundalk in Ireland and Europe.
“I really admire the way Daryl plays the game and I think he was by far the best player in the League of Ireland in his last two seasons with Dundalk. He has done well in his first season with Preston and Preston have consolidated their position in the Championship in their first season at that level. I think Daryl is the type of player that the Preston fans will take to and I wish him and Preston every success in the future.”
Mooney represented Ireland at u21 and u23 level, and played in a 4-1 victory over England at Turners Cross ahead of Italia ’90, and Brian revealed his disappointment that he didn’t make the cut for Jack Charlton’s World Cup squad.
“My favourite moment playing for Ireland was beating England 4-1 in Turners Cross, Cork just prior to the 1990 World Cup. There were a lot of players who played in that game who went on to play in the 1990 World Cup for Ireland and England. One of my greatest disappointments was that I never made that World Cup squad.”
HeÂ joined Sunderland in 1991, but returned home two years later to join Shelbourne. He enjoyed a successful career in Ireland, representing Shelbourne, Bohs, UCD and Monaghan United.
He qualified with a degree from UCD while representing the side, and has forged a successful career outside of football since his retirement in 2001.
“It was a challenge returning to the League of Ireland after my career in England,” he reflected.
“I don’t think the League of Ireland is given the respect it is due. It is a tough, physical league and I have seen many players returning from England failing to establish themselves in the league. I think the success of Dundalk in Europe last season has gone some way to addressing this and I hope League of Ireland teams continue to do well in Europe for this reason.
“It was quite difficult at the time to study, play and train for the League of Ireland at the time, as I was also working full time. I now think the time and effort was worth it, as I managed to forge a career for myself outside of the game which I enjoy.”
Does Brian have any regrets from his playing career?
“There are always things that you look back on and think you could have done differently. For example if I had of moved to other clubs when there were good offers in for me, if I hadn’t got injuries at certain times and you always need a little bit of luck. In general I try to look back on my time as a professional footballer in a positive manner and I think overall, I moved back to Ireland at the right time for me.”
The former Liverpool player also gave his opinion on the club’s current side under Jurgen Klopp.
“I think Klopp is doing relatively well at Liverpool and qualifying for the Champions League is certainly a step in the right direction. It can be frustrating as a Liverpool fan when they play extremely well against the top Premiership teams and then lose games against some of the teams that are in the lower half of the table. I hope he makes a few wise signings in the summer and the team can push on and win the Premiership and at least compete for the Champions League.”
There are high hopes for the contingent of Irish players at Preston,Â but they have big boots to fill at Deepdale.