IT was a memorable afternoon on Saturday for Corkman Adam O’Reilly, as the talented teenager made his first-team debut for Preston North End in the English Championship.
The 17-year-old midfielder has been making excellent progress with Preston and that work was rewarded with a maiden appearance in the home clash at Deepdale against Aston Villa.
O’Reilly got his first taste of English Championship football when he came on as a substitute for the Republic Of Ireland international and former Shamrock Rovers man Graham Burke.
Reflecting on making his first team Preston debut, a proud O’Reilly explained he was “over the moon to make my Preston North End debut. Just want to thank everyone who has helped me to get to where I am today and hopefully more to come, just another stepping stone.”
A son of 2007 First Division title winner with Cobh Ramblers in Kieran, he has showcased numerous glimpses in the Preston and Republic Of Ireland underage ranks that more first-team appearances could be a very distinct possibility in the near future and that the coming years look promising.
He has been involved in training with the first team squad and he was on the Preston subs bench last season also for a home game against Wolves.
There were a number of injuries in the Preston squad for Saturday’s game, with O’Reilly’s fellow Ringmahon Rangers stablemate in Alan Browne among 11 first team regulars that were absent for the game.
Preston boss Neil had turned to the club’s talented youngsters and along with O’Reilly, Ethan Walker was the third youngest player ever to play for Preston at 16 years of age.
It was clear how proud Neil was of the efforts of his Preston charges:
“It’s difficult for me to stand here and be anything other than proud of my team and that goes for the lads who started and the kids that came on.
"Aston Villa bring on experienced players like Bjarnason and Adomah, and we bring on Ethan Walker who’s 16 and Adam O’Reilly. They train every day, work hard and we wanted them to see that last five minutes out for us and they did, and they’ll be buzzing with that.
“These kids have trained with us and been with us for the last few weeks now. They have got a real determination to get better, stronger and to try and play."
Villa, who had Bandon man Conor Hourihane in their side, took the lead prior to half-time through a goal by Tammy Abraham.
That was before Preston got the equaliser through an own goal from Ahmed El Mohamady.
As far as he is concerned, Adam O’Reilly will hope it is the first of many games for Preston over the months and years ahead.