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Dublin: 9°C Friday 23 October 2020

Hourihane hoping for 2017 Ireland debut despite previous disappointment

The Corkman has been earning rave reviews for his displays while captaining Barnsley in the Championship.

AS HE CONTINUES to enhance his reputation in England, Conor Hourihane has set a target of making his senior international debut this year.

Hourihane has earned rave reviews this season, having captained newly-promoted Barnsley to within four points of the play-off places in the Championship. The 25-year-old midfielder is responsible for more assists than any other player in the division, while also placing second on the list for the most successful tackles made.

Barnsley v Norwich City - Sky Bet Championship - Oakwell Conor Hourihane (centre) celebrates after scoring for Barnsley against Norwich City. Source: Nigel French

Nevertheless, Hourihane has yet to be capped by the Republic of Ireland at senior level. The Cork native, who has represented his country up as far as U21, was included in Martin O’Neill’s provisional squads for the recent World Cup qualifiers against Georgia, Moldova and Austria, before being cut loose when the squad was reduced.

“I’ve been in two provisional squads, which has been pleasing. It shows that I’m doing something and I’m knocking on the door. But it was disappointing to get cut out of the two provisional squads. It just wasn’t to be at that time,” Hourihane told RTÉ’s Saturday Sport.

“Since the last international break and leading up to the next one, I’ve felt like I’ve continued to play consistently well. I’m sure they’re watching and looking at what I’m doing. Hopefully in the near future I’ll get into the official matchday squad.

“Playing for your country would be fantastic; born and bred Irish, Cork lad, it’s something I’ve always worked towards so that would be definitely a goal of mine. I’m hoping to achieve that in 2017.”

Hourihane has made significant progress as a player since he was let go by Ipswich Town in the summer of 2011. He went on to spend three seasons at Plymouth Argyle, where he was also appointed captain, before joining Barnsley in 2014.

The Championship’s Player of the Month back in August, Hourihane’s contract at Oakwell expires at the end of this season and he has reportedly attracted interest from Aston Villa, Celtic and Rangers, as well as a number of Major League Soccer clubs.

Barnsley v Newcastle United - Sky Bet Championship - Oakwell Hourihane tackles Newcastle United's Dwight Gayle. Source: Richard Sellers

“It took me a few years to get back to this level and I really wanted to make a name for myself. I was really determined to make an impact at this level and really make a go of it this year. So far it’s working out, which is pleasing,” Hourihane said.

“I’ve put a lot of hard work into my game to be able to handle this level and so far I’ve done okay. I’ll keep working hard on my game and keep trying to improve. We’ll see where it takes us.”

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About the author:

Paul Dollery

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