Preston North End Winger Graham Burke Extends Shamrock Rovers Loan

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Waterford , Ireland - 24 February 2020; Graham Burke of Shamrock Rovers prior to the SSE Airtricity League Premier Division match between Waterford and Shamrock Rovers at the RSC in Waterford. (Photo By Stephen McCarthy/Sportsfile via Getty Images)

Preston North End have confirmed that Graham Burke has extended his loan with Shamrock Rovers. In doing so, it seems that his career in the English Football League is over.

Graham Burke Extends Shamrock Rovers Loan

Burke Tipped for Premier League Success

Burke was originally a trainee at Aston Villa, where he was tipped to become a future star. As a substitute, he made his Villa debut in August 2012 against Tranmere Rovers, when the two teams met in the League Cup. However, he would make just one further appearance for Villa – against Bradford City, also in the 2012/13 League Cup – before leaving on a free transfer.

In-between, he played for Shrewsbury Town and Notts County on loan. Having spent the final months of the 2014/15 season at County, he would sign permanently for the club in summer 2015.

Burke, during a near two-year period in Nottingham, scored four goals in 45 appearances. In February 2017, the Dublin-born striker departed Notts County via mutual consent. He returned to Ireland soon afterwards to join Shamrock Rovers.

Burke Returned Home

Burke, upon his move to Shamrock Rovers, might have been forgiven for thinking his professional career had faltered. However, his move to Shamrock would prove the catalyst to success.

He spent just one year at Shamrock before returning to England with Preston North End. However, it was one heck of a year, as Burke claimed his place in Shamrock folklore.

In March 2018, he scored four goals for Shamrock in their League of Ireland victory over Derry City. Burke was the first Shamrock Rovers’ player to score four goals in a game for over 25 years.

He also became the first Rovers’ player capped by the Republic of Ireland in 32-years. This was against France. He later scored his first international goal in the 2-1 win over USA in Dublin on 2nd June 2018.

Although the transfer fee was undisclosed, Burke’s success led to Preston paying around €350,000 to Shamrock for the striker. He was signed in June 2018 by current Preston manager Alex Neil.

Out of Favour

Burke has struggled to gain a regularly starting place at Preston. Strangely, Burke is “not his (Neil’s) cup of tea.”. This is according to Burke himself, in a 2019 interview with The Irish Independent newspaper.

Although Neil phrased it slightly differently. Neil – upon the announcement of Burke’s original transfer to Shamrock Rovers – spoke to the Official Preston North End website.

“Some lads need to go out to play football and Graham is one of them,” said Neil.

Unfortunately, we can’t guarantee that here. We wish Graham all the best.”

Burke had already spent the second half of the 2018/19 season on loan at Gillingham. By Burke’s own admission, he was unhappy in England. So, in summer 2019, he made a return to Shamrock Rovers on loan.

“I’ve made the decision for myself.” said Burke in the same 2019 interview with The Irish Independent newspaper.

“If playing for Shamrock Rovers is the best thing for me, then I’m playing for Shamrock Rovers. I don’t care what anyone else says about it.”

It certainly has proved the case, as Burke is again scoring freely. He scored five goals against Cork City during a 6-0 victory in February 2020. Unfortunately, a few weeks later, the Covid-19 pandemic caused the League of Ireland’s suspension. This weekend marks the league’s return to action.

Burke has extended his loan at Shamrock Rovers until June 2021. This is also the expiry date of his current three-year contract with Preston. Therefore, it seems very unlikely that Burke will ever play in England again.

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