Born in Cork, Sean McLoughlin first began playing locally with Springfield Ramblers in Cobh and gradually progressed in their setup, making the prestigious Cork Kennedy Cup side at U14s level.
Having finished with Springfield in 2013, a move to the League of Ireland underage ranks was the next step with Cork City’s U19s side the first to come calling.
His two-year period within the U19s ranks was a successful one, with the team crowned league champions in his first season, showcasing his versatility, McLoughlin operated at centre-back, left-back and in midfield. However, he wasn’t kept on by the club to play senior football.
Having finished secondary school at the same time, the decision saw him combine football with education as he began studying for a degree in Business Information Systems at University College Cork.
While his debut season was about finding his feet and making an initial mark, his second year at the historical Mardyke club was when the defender really stood out. He was named Player of the Tournament as UCC won the 2017 Collingwood Cup for the 13th time.
A Munster Senior League title followed soon after, with McLoughlin grabbing the stunning all-important winner in the final day decider against Cobh Wanderers.
His time at UCC was going well and inevitably scouts began to flock to keep tabs on his progress development, which led to a return to Cork City in 2017, which also allowed him to complete his degree.
A senior debut for the Rebel Army came against St Patrick’s in October 2017, but it would be 2018 before he truly established himself as a full part of the squad. An impressive pre-season laid down a marker with McLoughlin going from strength-to-strength as he racked up a total of 35 appearances – and two goals – in all competitions.
That campaign saw McLoughlin make nine appearances alongside ex-Tiger Damien Delaney, including four of his six European appearances in a Cork City shirt.
His quick development and impressive contribution on the pitch saw him called into the Republic of Ireland U21s squad for the first time in September 2018, making his debut against Germany.
Further progress was made in 2019, as he added a further 27 games – and another two goals – to his tally in a Cork shirt.
His impressive performances for the League of Ireland champions at such a young age attracted interest from clubs across the channel – and it is with the Tigers that McLoughlin will begin his adventure in English football with following his decision to pen a three-year deal at the KCOM Stadium.