ADAM O'REILLY is confident that he can use his Waterford loan experience to reignite his Preston North End career.
The 20-year-old midfielder completed his temporary League of Ireland stint last weekend by delivering a man-of-the-match display against St Patrick’s Athletic.
O’Reilly had made steady progress at Deepdale since moving from Ringmahon Rangers, sampling his Championship debut in 2018 before earning an improved three-year contract before Christmas.
However, his progress was clipped by Alex Neil, the Preston manager who was sacked in March just as O’Reilly’s latest loan move was taking flight.
He’s hoping for a clean slate under new Preston boss Frank McAvoy when pre-season training starts next week.
“The last few years have been tough as I haven’t had the look-in that I deserved, to be honest,” the Cork native said.
“I’ve gone out on numerous loans, did as well as I could but it hasn’t gone my way.
“I want to further my career as much as I can. Whether that’s playing in the Championship for Preston North End or having to go on loan to find a team, minutes on the pitch is the priority.
“Pre-season is coming now, which will be massive for me. Especially after this loan move, I want to get back there and prove a point to myself by pushing into the team.”
After spending loan time at Northern Premier outfits Hyde United and Stalybridge Celtic, O’Reilly’s loan at Waterford was more demanding.
The Blues are finally mounting a battle to avoid relegation under new boss Marc Bircham, beating Dundalk and Longford Town, as well as drawing with co-leaders St Pat’s, in June.
O’Reilly said: “I was coming back to Ireland thinking it was a tough league and, Jesus, I was right. It’s a rough and ready league, with a lot of big lads and that toughened me up.
“Some of my opponents in midfield have come back into the League from England. The likes of Chris Forrester, who I played against for St Pat’s last week, while Graham Burke was another top player that I learnt from coming up against. It was a brilliant experience.”
If he continued to be frozen out at his parent club, would a return to Waterford appeal? O’Reilly certainly rates ex-QPR and Millwall midfielder Bircham as a coach.
“I’ll be honest and say Marc is the best manager that I’ve ever had,” said the playmaker.
“He’s so good when it comes to the tactical side. He can have a laugh and joke but it’s all hands on deck when it’s down to the nitty-gritty of matches.
“He’s played professionally at a good level so knows exactly what we’re thinking and how to manage certain players who might be different. Marc was a brilliant man to help my development.
“I’m not sure what will happen next. Waterford won’t be in the picture for me because the team is getting better and better.
“I know if I came back here, I’d keep improving but I’ll have a chat with Preston about their plans.”