“MY mouth is actually still numb, from all the smiling,” joked Sean Maguire.
The former Cork City striker returned to Turner’s Cross on Monday night to see his current side, Preston North End, defeat his former club 2-0, in their Cork Airport Hotel friendly.
Unfortunately for the 1,470 crowd, Maguire was unable to play, as he had only recently returned to training, but he posed for hundreds of photos with the fans.
“It was brilliant to get back,” he said. “I have been back a couple of times to see the boys play in the last couple of years in the league and, hopefully, I will get to the game Thursday night, in the Europa League qualifier.
“It was brilliant. It was different circumstances, being in the away dressing room, and stuff like that, but it was good to get back and to see familiar faces, seeing all the fans, and it was just good to be back in general.
“Obviously, being away with Ireland for three weeks, I then only had a two-and-a-half week break after that. The boys have been back now two weeks and myself and Callum (Robinson) have only been back four or five days, so I think it was a bit too early.”
Preston have been training in Fota, ahead of the new championship season, which they open with an away trip to Millwall, at the beginning of August.
The Lancashire side finished 14th last term, 13 points behind the final play-off place, but Maguire insisted their aim was to finish in that top six.
“First things first: I just need to stay fit for the full season,” added the Republic of Ireland international.
“I think this year is a really big year for me, pushing on not just as an individual, but as a team, as well.
“Both seasons have been different, for various reasons. Obviously, the first year I was injured for half of it; I played like 20 odd games, but I still finished the season well, with 10 goals.
“But last year, I played the same amount of games, but I really didn’t play particularly well, especially towards the end of the season, my performances were well-below par.
“I’m 25 now, so I still consider myself to be quite young. It has only been the last couple of years, really, where I have had injuries, so it is about managing myself a bit more outside of training."