Preston North End manager Simon Grayson has this morning reserved special praise for Irish winger Daryl Horgan.
The 24-year-old made the move to the Championship earlier this month having recently secured his third consecutive Airtricity League title with Dundalk.
Upon the announcement of his transfer, a large number of Irish fans voiced their concerns about whether Horgan would see sufficient playing time with his new club, following former teammate and League of Ireland standout Richie Towell’s struggles since his move to Brighton.
However, after making his debut off the bench during Preston’s narrow third round FA Cup loss at the hands of Arsenal this past weekend, manager Simon Grayson has suggested that the tenacious winger will have plenty of opportunities to prove himself over the coming months.
‘I thought Daryl affected the game when he came on.’
‘He is a player who has the potential to excite the fans and do well for us. It is good to have players in the squad who can fit straight into what we want to do.’
The impact made by Horgan during Saturday’s matchup did not receive much coverage post-game, mainly due to the fact that his side eventually lost out in such dramatic circumstances, but the contributions of the former Sligo Rovers man should not be overlooked by fans of Irish football.
The Galway-native was sent on late in the second half with the scores at one apiece versus one of the Premier League’s top sides.
It would have been easy for the diminutive midfielder to let the occasion get the better of him, with the pressure of facing off against fully established stars like Granit Xhaka and Olivier Giroud only intensified by the raucous Deepdale crowd, fully intent on causing the third round’s biggest upset.
Many debutants would have played it simple and returned the ball to sender in such a pressure cooker atmosphere.
But not Horgan.
The former Liliywhite was brave and full of character, picking up the ball from deep and making the type of industrious runs that fans of the Airtricity League had become so accustomed to.
His link-up play was impressive, and his delivery into the box even more so.
One attempt to dribble the ball past Arsenal full-back Ainsley Maitland-Niles saw Horgan simply run the ball out of play, perhaps letting the adrenaline get the better of him, but the Preston faithful applauded the intent, clearly impressed by the direct nature of the Irishman.
While Preston did eventually fall to a late, late Olivier Giroud winner, a packed Deepdale stood and applauded their side for a valiant and spirited effort.
If hard work and determination play a significant role in earning a place within the Preston North End rotation, Daryl Horgan should look forward to seeing plenty of game time over the coming seasons.