O’Neill needs to ignore Sheridan and pick Maguire


Death and taxes. The only certainties in life.

And Martin O’Neill naming bloated Republic of Ireland squads which include half a dozen goalkeepers.

That has become a certainty in the last few years since the former Leicester City and Aston Villa boss took the helm at Ireland.

On Monday, O’Neill named a 39-man provisional squad for the World Cup qualifier against Wales and the friendly with Iceland. He appeased novelty-seeking Irish fans by including John Egan and Liam Kelly, while former Dundalk duo Andy Boyle and Daryl Horgan are named to please League of Ireland fans.

None of the four is likely to get a sniff in the Wales game, but Iceland could offer them a chance to impress. Horgan and Boyle are in the squad on merit thanks to their form at Preston (Horgan especially), while the other two are younger players who may have a place in future squads.

However, like death and taxes, there’s plenty of concern surrounding this latest squad announcement. Kevin Doyle will be named in Ireland squads for eternity unless he does something serious to offend the management team – perhaps reversing over Roy Keane’s dog is the only thing that would get him left at home.

As always, there has been calls for players overlooked – even with 39 players, you can’t please everyone. The name this time is Cillian Sheridan, who has become the exciting player plying his trade abroad after moving from Omonia to Jagiellonia Bialystok.

However, aside from one solid season in Cyprus with Omonia, 28-year-old Sheridan has never shone as a striker. In 10 seasons of senior football, he only scored double figures once. His three friendly appearances for Ireland back in 2010 were similarly underwhelming.

But now Sheridan is on the books of the Polish club, he’s gotten back into the discussion – so much so that Martin O’Neill is considering him. The Ireland boss plans to travel to Poland to see him in action. He’d be better off saving the FAI the price of the plane ticket.

Instead, there’s a far better option closer to home. In the League of Ireland, Sean Maguire is in sensational form for Cork City. The 22-year-old scored 28 goals for Cork City last season, and picked up where he left off with three goals in three league games and another in the FAI President’s Cup against European challengers Dundalk.

Maguire also netted the winner in the 2016 FAI Cup Final, playing against Boyle and Horgan. If they’re good enough, then he is too. There is no more in-form Irish striker playing anywhere. Maguire will finish this season as the top scorer in the SSE Airtricity Premier Division. He’ll probably earn a transfer to the United Kingdom, and within weeks will be in the Ireland squad.

Why wait? Ireland don’t have an out-and-out goalscorer since Robbie Keane retired. Sheridan will never be that player. Sean Maguire could be.

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