Cork soccer players are off to a flying start in England this season

Dylan O'Connell looks at how the Leesiders are faring so far cross-channel
Cork soccer players are off to a flying start in England this season

Jake O'Brien of Republic of Ireland U21s. Picture: Seb Daly/Sportsfile

THE 2022-'23 football season is well underway and Cork players are scattered around the English pyramid.

At each level, from the top of the Premier League to the bottom of League Two, a representative from Leeside can be found.

At Liverpool, Caoimhín Kelleher remains sidelined with an injury picked up last June when he was on international duty. This was confirmed by Jurgen Klopp at the start of the Premier League season.

“Caoimhin Kelleher, I hear the Ireland manager didn’t like it or was not happy. For us, he got injured while he was with Ireland, so someone there didn’t pick it up and when he arrived here [for pre-season] he was still injured.”

Goalkeeper Caoimhín Kelleher, right, and Chiedozie Ogbene. Picture: Stephen McCarthy/Sportsfile
Goalkeeper Caoimhín Kelleher, right, and Chiedozie Ogbene. Picture: Stephen McCarthy/Sportsfile

This claim was disputed by Stephen Kenny ahead the current window of games in the UEFA Nations League.

Crystal Palace have sent Jake O’Brien on loan to RWD Molenbeek in Belgium. The defender moved to the Challenger Pro League side after taking part in the Eagles’ pre-season campaign.

Tyreik Wright has joined Bradford City on loan from Aston Villa. The Irish U21 international has made three appearances so far in League Two for the Bantams and he has one goal and one assist to his name.

The race for the Championship title is being led by John Egan and Sheffield United. The Blades have a three-point cushion at the top of the table and they have only conceded five goals so far this season.

Sheffield United's Oli McBurnie greets John Egan following the Sky Bet Championship match at Deepdale Stadium, Preston.
Sheffield United's Oli McBurnie greets John Egan following the Sky Bet Championship match at Deepdale Stadium, Preston.

Egan’s performances have been noted, with top clubs like Leeds United and West Ham United reportedly interested in the defender.

The Blades' title rivals are Burnley, who have Kevin Long on their books. The defender has not featured for the Clarets this season as he remains sidelined with an injury.

Adam Idah recently returned from a long-term knee injury with Norwich City. The striker, who scored his first Premier League goal last January at Goodison Park, first appeared as a substitute in the Carabao Cup when the Canaries took on Bournemouth.

Idah announced his return with a late goal for his club, but this wasn’t the winner as the Cherries scored a late equaliser and won on penalties.

Alan Browne has propelled Preston North End up to fifteenth in the Championship. The club captain is now into his ninth full season at Deepdale and he is expected to lead a playoff push this year.

Adam O’Reilly remains on loan at St Patrick’s Athletic from Preston. The midfielder from Mahon joined the Saints last March and he has become an important player in Tim Clancy’s team. He helped them reach the third round of the Europa Conference League qualifiers last July, and he got an assist against CSKA Sofia during St Pat’s famous 1-0 win in Bulgaria. His work caught the eye of FC Como last summer, with the Italian side expressing an interest in the midfielder.

Chiedozie Ogbene stepped up to the Championship after an impressive 2021-22 season with Rotherham United. After winning the EFL Cup and promotion to the second tier of English football, he began life by scoring five goals in eleven appearances. This has propelled the Millers to eighth place in the division.

Hull City defender Sean McLoughlin has only made two appearances this season in the Championship. The 25-year-old featured in a Carabao Cup game versus Bradford City and he was brought on as a substitute against Sheffield United in the league.

Ricardo Dinanga is currently playing for Coventry City’s U21s. The winger joined the Sky Blues in 2021 and he has yet to make a senior appearance for the club.

Ethon Varion left Stoke City at the beginning of July and he signed for Bohemians in the League of Ireland Premier Division.

This summer saw Conor Hourihane move to Derby County on a two-year deal after his contract expired with Aston Villa. The midfielder joined a club that was just relegated from the Championship and reeling from years of financial uncertainty. 

Derby have taken to life in League One with ease and they are currently in the top half of the table. Hourihane announced himself with two goals against Wycombe Wanderers in the middle of September. He is also expected to play against Liverpool in the Carabao Cup in November at Anfield.

The off-season saw Eoghan O’Connell transfer to Charlton Athletic from Rochdale. The defender completed the second most passes in League Two last year, and Charlton’s playing style was a key reason why he moved to London. O’Connell has made nine appearances so far the Valiants, who are building towards a play-off push.

Anthony O’Connor remains at Morecambe in League Two and he is into his second season with the Shrimps.

Fiacre Kelleher has been sent to National League side Solihull Moors on a season-long loan from Bradford City.

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