Jimmy Corcoran hoping home comforts help him settle in at Preston North End

Jimmy Corcoran hoping home comforts help him settle in at Preston North End

As the young goalkeeping star makes the move over to Preston North End this summer, he can take heart in knowing the journey won’t be an issue

Jimmy Corcoran with former Cherry Orchard team-mate Luke Turner after representing Ireland under-16s against Bulgaria in April (Image: Cherry Orchard FC/Twitter)

Feeling at home was what swung it for Jimmy Corcoran.

The 16-year-old is no stranger to testing moves and travelling far in his young footballing career.

And as the young goalkeeping star makes the move over to Preston North End this summer, he can take heart in knowing the journey won’t be an issue as long as the destination feels right.

It’s what convinced him to choose Cherry Orchard two years ago, moving up from Kells Blackwater and having to forcibly end his dual-sport ambitions.

Republic of Ireland youth international Jimmy Corcoran (Image: INPHO/Andrew Fosker)

“Obviously Cherry Orchard have played a big part in my football career,” Corcoran tells Dublin Live.

“From Kells Blackwater to Cherry Orchard was a big change.

“Obviously the next level is internationals and Preston but Cherry Orchard really felt like it was just a different level.

“But they helped me out so much in the two years that I was there, you know, a lad coming from the country I wasn’t even playing soccer that much back home – obviously I was playing with Kells but I was playing Gaelic at the same time, and some of the Gaelic players and Gaelic managers frowned upon me heading up to Dublin to play soccer full-time.

“But Cherry Orchard was the right place for me. The club is only getting better as well. They’ve got the new astro in there – that was done the season I came, we were playing on that, and all the players and the managers, they’re a really good club and I really enjoyed being there.”

Enjoyment is the key for young Irish players making the trip to England.

Too many times horror stories come out of isolation, of homesickness, of falling out of love with the game, but Corcoran knows he’s got the support from the club and from family he has local.

“When I first came here how welcoming all the team was, I almost felt like I was part of a senior trial,” he continued.

“It’s very hard to find that at other clubs.

“I was at Birmingham and Sheffield Wednesday, and it almost felt like I was an outsider, I felt like I was looked upon like “this lad is in here to take one of my friend’s positions”. You almost wouldn’t feel at home.

“With Preston, it was just the way they treated me, the lads are just second to none I really enjoy my time here as well, in the house we have a few Irish boys.

“There’s a few other English lads as well but they’re really sound, really inviting. The biggest positive is it’s very hard to get homesick. There’s loads of people here to talk to or have the craic with.

“I’ve relations up in Southport as well, which is only half an hour or 40 minutes up the road. We were up with them there on Saturday afternoon, had dinner with them.

“They’re really nice people over here as well. My father would have been here when he was young, so it was nice for me to meet them and if I ever feel homesick I can go out for dinner with them and have a chat, about what’s going on during the season and all.

“It’s good to have somebody here as well as my parents only being about an hour away on a plane.”

Corcoran has his accommodation sorted with the club, staying in a house of twelve with fellow Irish prospects Brian McManus, Charlie Lyons, and Adam O’Reilly, who was recently called up to the senior Preston squad and made an appearance on the bench for the Lancashire club against Bamber Bridge during the weekend.

O’Reilly’s story is all the inspiration Corcoran needs to reach his goal – with the added incentive of a home European Under-17 Championships to look forward to next summer.

And the Meath native has only one goal – to be lifting the trophy in Tallaght Stadium in May, and to reclaim the chance so agonisingly denied to him after the infamous penalty shootout against Holland.

Ireland goalkeeper Jimmy Corcoran faces Wouter Burger of the Netherlands during the penalty shoot out

“It’s really good to see lots of Irish over here as well,” he beamed.

“It encourages you, it welcomes you – I’d always think I’d like to be the next Irish person in the first-team squad. It does drive you on to be the next Irish lad in the Preston team.

“With Adam after getting up there recently, it does make you say “yeah I want to be up there as well”.

“The first and foremost is to get my number one shirt for the 18s. If I’m number one here it would help me a lot, obviously, with the European Championships coming up at home next year. I’d like to be starting goalkeeper next season there as well at home, in front of all my friends and family.

“The last two years we’ve reached the quarter-final, this year it could be different because it’s at home, you have that extra little bit of motivation from the crowd, there’ll be bigger crowds at the game, playing in your home stadiums, places you’d have said “oh I’d like to be playing there”.

“We’d like to improve on the last two seasons and possibly get to the semi-finals or even a final.

“Anybody who plays in it wants to win it. From last season we had a very good team and I think this season as well we’re really strong, so I’d like to think we should be able to go just as far – even further.”

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