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Conor Hourihane Reveals Roy Keane's Advice For Him Ahead Of Last Season's Playoff Final

Conor Hourihane Reveals Roy Keane's Advice For Him Ahead Of Last Season's Playoff Final
By Gavan Casey

The clamour for Conor Hourihane's inclusion in Martin O'Neill's next national squad continues apace as the 25-year-old Corkman consistently excels in the Championship with Barnsley.

The Ireland boss may not yet have travelled to south Yorkshire to cast an eye over the Tykes' skipper, but his assistant manager is more than familiar with Hourihane having signed him for both Sunderland and Ipswich during his spells in charge at both clubs.

Hourihane told Paul Rowan of The Sunday Times that, prior to Barnsley's 3-1 victory over Milwall at last season's League One playoff final, he received a phonecall from the man who brought him to the English north east from Bandon nine years ago:

He wished me all the best and said that nobody remembers losers at Wembley; you want to go there and win.

It was a fantastic call to get because I still look up to him. Hopefully we will meet again in the future.

It can surely only be a matter of time before Hourihane dons the green of Ireland once more. As compiled by The Sunday Times - taking in the last three seasons and the first seven games of this one, nobody in English league football has provided more than Hourihane’s 34 assists (he also lies seventh in the table for combined goals and assists with 68 total).

It's a far cry from inauspicious beginnings in England, and the former Douglas Hall man told Rowan how only sheer perseverance and will to succeed prevented him from returning to Cork a nearly man:

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When you sign for a club at 16 you think you are going to be the next Wayne Rooney. If somebody told me the roller-coaster I would have had. I would have thought ‘no way. I will have an easier ride than that’. It’s a cut-throat business. You have to be thick-skinned and strong-minded and that is something I have got in me.

I learnt a lot when I was at Plymouth. When I first signed I didn’t get paid for five months and had to live on my savings. The club nearly went into liquidation and nearly got relegated out of the football league. I almost didn’t have a club. But failure was not an option for me. Going back to Cork with my bags packed? No chance. I couldn’t be the nearly man. I have done everything to get to this point and I am going to keep working hard to make sure I move forward.

His career trajectory since Plymouth would suggest that Hourihane will represent his country again before long.

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You can check out Hourihane's full interview on The Sunday Times.

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