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An Irishman is topping the Championship assist charts right now

Barnsley’s Conor Hourihane has been in superb form lately.

Barnsley's Conor Hourihane has registered 10 assists so far this season.
Barnsley's Conor Hourihane has registered 10 assists so far this season.
Image: Nigel French

THERE IS NO doubt that Irish midfielder Conor Hourihane has been one of the players of the season in the Championship so far.

The 25-year-old, who has been in superb form this season, produced an inch-perfect cross for the opening goal as Barnsley beat Blackburn 2-0 to go ninth in the Championship yesterday (see video below).

That moment of skill consolidated Hourihane’s place at the top of the Championship assist charts.

The Cork native, who was the Championship’s Player of the Month for August, now has 10 assists overall this season — three more than his nearest challenger, Huddersfield’s Tommy Smith, while he has also scored four goals in 21 appearances for the Tykes in the league so far.

Meanwhile, two other Irish players — Norwich’s Wes Hoolahan and Preston’s Greg Cunningham — are joint 15th on the list, having produced four assists apiece since the beginning of the campaign.

Hourihane has also been on the radar of Ireland manager Martin O’Neill of late.

The former Sunderland youngster has been included more than once in the Boys in Green’s provisional squad, but has yet to win a senior international cap.

Source: Games&Sports/YouTube

Hourihane is seemingly paying heed to the words of Ireland assistant manager Roy Keane, who back in November said that the player needed to do “more” to put himself in contention for an Ireland place.

Martin (O’Neill’s) gone to see him in one or two of the games where he’s probably not had his better games,” Keane said at the time. “I saw him one or two months back where he probably didn’t have one of his better games either. I think it was against Reading.

“Not that we’re just judging him on the 90 minutes we’re watching him. But sometimes when we go watch him, particularly with the manager, you need to see him step up to the plate.

He’s been in a few provisional squads, he’s doing well. I know the situation at Barnsley where the contract’s (nearly) up, he’s probably looking to move on maybe, but Barnsley’s been a good club for him. He probably needs to do a touch more — and I mean that in all aspects of his game.

“But I’m not surprised to see him making a living out of the game and doing really well and every time, particularly over the last year or two, the club he’s been at he affects games. He’s either involved in a goal or he’s scoring. He’s probably had a quiet month or two, a slight dip in form, but he’s definitely one we’ll continue to watch.”

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Paul Fennessy

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