Barnsley skipper Conor Hourihane spoke exclusively to barnsleyfc.co.uk today after being called up to the full Ireland International squad.
The Reds midfielder has enjoyed a blistering start to the season, picking up the Championship Player of the Month award for August and has now been deservedly rewarded with a call up to the Republic of Ireland squad for upcoming World Cup qualifying games against Georgia and Moldova.
The 25-year-old Irishman, who has already represented his country and Under 19 and Under 21 level, was clearly ecstatic at the news of his call up to the full international squad.
“It’s fantastic.” Conor said. “It’s something that I’ve been working towards for a long time. Being a proud Irishman it’s something that I’ve always wanted to do, so it’s nice to get the call up. It’s been a long road, there have been a lot of ups and downs, a lot of hard work – it’s paying off slowly but surely, but there is still a lot of hard work to do, still a lot of places that I want to go, so it’s just another good step in the right direction.”
Having worked hard over the years to play at Championship level, Hourihane is looking forward to joining the international set up and will see some familiar faces as he links up with the Ireland squad in the coming weeks.
“I’ve played with quite a few of them (the other Irish players) down the years; Shane Duffy who will play for Brighton tomorrow, Jeff Hendrick, David Meyler, Seamus Coleman, people like that, so I’ve played with a few of them and played against many of them, a few this year as well.”
Hourihane has made dramatic progress since signing for the Reds from League Two side Plymouth Argyle, scoring 28 goals in 116 appearances so far for Barnsley. Republic of Ireland Manager Martin O’Neil is clearly impressed by his recent performances and he was the person who broke the news of the call up to Conor.
“It was Martin who broke the news to me yesterday, he phoned me yesterday afternoon and had a word with me and we had a chat for five minutes - so for him to take the time out to let me know was nice.”
In his early career Hourihane was signed twice by the now Ireland Assistant Manager Roy Keane for both Sunderland and Ipswich Town. It’s clear that the former Manchester United midfielder thinks a great deal of the Barnsley skipper and Conor is looking forward to linking back up with a man who he has worked with a lot over the years.
“I’ve known him (Roy) down the years, he signed me for two clubs and he drops me a text every now and again. He’s a fellow Cork man and you look after your own when you’re in a new country over here in England. I’ve always looked up to him; he’s been my hero ever since I was young. It’ll be nice to see him again and hopefully learn more things from him.”
Conor Hourihane is in the Ireland squad for upcoming World Cup Qualifying games against Georgia and Moldova. Look out for updates on the Reds Captain’s progress on international duty right here on barnsleyfc.co.uk!
Watch the full extended interview with Conor Hourihane now on Barnsley Player HD by clicking here.