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‘Obsession’ with football is lighting the coaching fire within Conor Hourihane 

June 21st, 2024 8:00 AM

By Kieran McCarthy

‘Obsession’ with football is lighting the coaching fire within Conor Hourihane  Image
Conor Hourihane with his wife Olivia and their children Ora and Ada, who are holding Conor’s West Cork Sports Star monthly award. (Photo: Martin Walsh)

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CONOR Hourihane’s family will always circle June in the calendar because this is the month he traditionally returns home to Bandon on holidays – and this year was no different.

The English soccer season is relentless so Conor doesn’t get the chance to fly home during the campaign. Instead, he’ll spend time back in Bandon in June, that free month after one long, hard season and before the next pre-season kicks in. 

He loves these trips home, even more so now that his own family has grown – Conor and his wife Olivia have two daughters, Ora and Ada. 

Spending time with his parents, John and Helen, and his sister Elaine and brother Patrick, and their families is important. A chance to catch up, and also for Conor’s girls to see where their dad grew up before he left these West Cork shores when he was just 16 years old to move to England. 

Now 33, Conor is still living the dream, and still in headlines – after captaining Derby County to League One promotion, he was presented with a West Cork Sports Star monthly award at the Celtic Ross Hotel, recognition of the latest achievement in a remarkable career.


‘It’s always special to receive an award like this here at home,’ he said, on an evening where his girls and their first cousin, Isabelle Milner, enjoyed the freedom of the Celtic Ross Hotel, and the day before his dad John and his uncle Dan celebrated their 71st birthdays. The extended Hourihane clan made the most of this get-together, and so is Conor in his ongoing adventures in English football.

He recently returned to a former club, Barnsley, on a multi-year deal, as a first-team coach and player before then ‘assuming full-time first-team coach responsibilities in two years’ time’. Given his intent on pursuing a career in coaching, is the clock ticking on his playing career and will his full-time coaching role in two years’ time see the Bandon man hang up his playing boots?

‘If I last two years playing,’ he quipped.

‘I don’t know, time will tell. It’s a clause in there for now, let’s just see how the next couple of years go, how much do I play, how much I am enjoying the coaching, how well it’s going for me and how much influence I am having in and around the club. Let’s just see on that, there’s not really a timeframe.

‘There’s a coaching job on the horizon for me and it’s great to have that security as well.’

Conor Hourihane and his daughter Ora with his West Cork Sports Star monthly award. Also included, from left, John, Ada, Olivia and Helen Hourihane.


Intent on still making an impact as a player, Conor feels he has a lot to give; in the 2022/23 season he was named on the League One Team of the Year. But he is also preparing for his journey into coaching, admitting his obsession with football is driving him into the next phase of his career.

‘It’s probably an obsession about the game,’ he told The Southern Star. 

‘I love the game, the detail that goes into it, the everyday work that goes on with individuals. The second best thing for a player is to become a coach or a manager, to have that buzz, to have that everyday feel for the game, I can’t see myself going without it.

‘It’s that real obsession and love for the game, and you have to be obsessed and love it if you want to go down this road because coaching and management takes over your life – and you have to be willing to put in that time to be a success with it.’ 

Conor’s application as a player is one of the hallmarks of his success in English soccer, and given the former Irish international will apply a similar approach here, the next step of his career promises to be exciting, too. That means, for the foreseeable, it looks like June will still be circled in the calendar for these trips home.

  • The West Cork Sports Star Awards are run by the Celtic Ross Hotel, The Southern Star and C103

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