7 August 2016
By Bryan T. Smyth
This year Conor Hourihane became the first West Cork man to captain an English professional soccer team to their first Cup Final victory at Wembley Stadium. Conor captained the Barnsley side to their very first League One Cup victory, making history for himself and his club.
Barnsley are now also promoted to the Championship, achieved after they defeated Millwall in the play-off final at Wembley on May 29th last. Conor’s team were bottom of the table in November, lost their Manager in February and now they are in the Championship. Team captain Conor Hourihane was also named outstanding player over the season.
Republic of Ireland U21 international Conor Hourihane received a Cork Person of the Month award to mark his glittering soccer career to date. The midfield player and big goal scorer has represented Ireland at under-19 and under-21 levels and is tipped for further honours in Ireland and England in the years ahead.
Every time Conor pulls on the Barnsley strip, he is reminded of home – it’s Red and White. He is very much considered the prize asset of the Barnsley “Reds” Club. He joined them from Plymouth Argyle on a three-year contract in June ’14 and soon showed how deadly his left foot can be, smashing their goal and assists charts, with 14 goals and 19 assists for the team.
The 25-year old midfielder has made 142 appearances over three seasons and has been Club Captain since the 2012/13 campaign.
After coming up through the youth ranks at Sunderland, Conor made a move to Ipswich Town in 2010. The following season he moved to Plymouth where he built up an impressive reputation in the heart of the midfield.
Back in Bandon, no one is surprised at Conor Hourihane’s successes. Current Cork GAA Gaelic Football star Brian Hurley said “he was a nightmare to mark, he’d dummy on his left or his right and he’d be gone before you knew it, leaving you flat on your ass on the grass.”
Tony O’Leary of Bandon AFC, a former coach of Conor’s in his schoolboy soccer days, remembers one U14 match in particular. It was 0-0 at half time “There’s a scout in the crowd over there. I told that man you were a good player but now he thinks you’re useless. Go out and show him what you can do…….Conor went out and scored five goals in the second half,” remembers Tony O’Leary.
Conor Hourihane’s name now goes forward for possible selection as Cork Person of the Year at a Gala Awards Lunch on Jan 20th next, at Rochestown Park Hotel, Cork.