Opinion: Hull make a versatile and youthful investment in Sean McLoughlin
 3 May 2019; Sean McLoughlin of Cork City during the SSE Airtricity League Premier Division match between Bohemians and Cork City at Dalymount Park in Dublin. (Photo by Ben McShane via Getty Images.)

After Hull City completed a deal to sign Cork City defender Sean McLoughlin on a three-year-deal, the Irish prospect joins an impressive list of youthful talents hoping to impress boss Grant McCann.

He has indicated his positive stance on utilising the youth set up by heavily featuring them in pre-season. Jacob Greaves (centre-back), Brandon Fleming (left-back), Max Sheaf (central midfielder) and forward Keane Lewis-Potter have all had a substantial amount of game time thus far.

A breakthrough of Tigers youth

The breakthrough of youth, that also includes; Jarrod BowenRobbie McKenzie and Daniel Batty all offer renewed optimism for the developing youth being produced at the Hull City development centre.

Whilst the current youth are making their voice heard in the first team, the 22-year-old Republic of Ireland defender offers serious competition for Jordy De Wijs, Reece Burke and Ryan Tafazolli, whilst also covering for left-back Stephen Kingsley and makeshift left-back Eric Lichaj.

McLoughlin arrives at the KCOM stadium having featured in Cork City's Europa League campaign and was previously touted by McCann at Doncaster Rovers. 

With Eric Lichaj entering his 30's and Stephen Kingsley unable to stay fit and produce consistent performances, a new left-back is welcomed among the ranks.

In the past few seasons, certainly, the improvement in the training facilities and investment into the youth system has proved fruitful.

Previous managers have felt they've had to scramble around the youth academy due to working with a shoestring budget under Allam's reign. But the application and willingness to learn that has been shown by the youthful Tigers has certainly impressed the array of managers that have walked through the revolving managerial door.

Bowen impressed in 2017

It's likely Leonid Slutsky didn't intend on starting Jarrod Bowen in the opening game of the season against Aston Villa in 2017, but given the lack of attacking options, it allowed Bowen to express his unerring talents.

Perhaps the lack of investment has been a blessing in disguise in recent times and it has enabled the youth academy to flex their muscles and capitalise on an opportunity to perform in England's second division.

Hull are also no stranger to the acquisition of young, Republic of Ireland players who often rose to stardom in a Tigers shirt for their constant work rate and passion for the cause.

Damien Delaney's versatility and Irish vigour was instrumental in Hull's rise through the divisions in the mid-2000s. You could liken the signing of McLoughlin to Delaney, who Hull fans hope will adorn the cult hero status that the former had under Peter Taylor.

Two former Manchester United Republic of Ireland youth players were pivotal in Hull's promotion to the Premier League in the 2012/13 season.

The first of these was Paul McShane; joining from Sunderland initially on loan in 2009, McShane's no-nonsense defensive attributes on the field were instrumental in achieving Hull's Premier League status under Phil Brown.

McShane, Brady and others over the last decade

Despite being loaned out twice; once to Barnsley in 2011 and then to Crystal Palace in 2012, McShane became a cult hero in a Hull shirt by leaving his heart on the field and despite only scoring a few goals, they were crucial ones in the context of a season. That goal he scored against Cardiff on the final day of the season in 2013 eventually helped Hull clinch promotion after enduring a nail biting wait on other results.

Next was Robbie Brady, joining from Manchester United as a 19-year-old initially on loan in 2011, Brady became famed for his versatility; playing as a left-winger, right-winger and then transitioned to a wing-back in the 2012/13 season where he enjoyed his best spell; marauding up and down the left side in Steve Bruce's domineering 3-5-2 system.

Lastly, a player who captured the hearts of Hull fans for putting 110% into every game. Like McShane, central midfielder David Meyler wasn't blessed with an array of technical ability, but his effort and application were attributes appreciated by his supporters and critics.

He joined on loan from Sunderland in 2012 before making a permanent switch in 2013, the enigmatic midfielder often found himself scoring crucial goals.

A bright future for Hull

In his first two seasons in the Premier League, he netted against Liverpool and Manchester City, whilst putting the seal on proceedings by netting the fifth goal in Hull's FA Cup semi-final victory over Sheffield United.

With a low budget being handed to the manager who chooses to take the job that is seemingly a poison chalice in the Allam era, signings like McLoughlin are certainly ones that are welcomed in potentially furthering the development of youngsters before selling them on for mega-profits.

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