HE is a Premier League footballer and he is a Republic of Ireland international – but Conor Hourihane was blown away to win the 2019 West Cork Sports Star of the Year Award.
The Bandon man was surprised with the award at Aston Villa’s training grounds last Friday morning, as preparations cranked up for their Premier League clash away to Brighton on Saturday.
Unable to attend the awards on Saturday night because of the match, he told The Southern Star how much winning this award means to him.
‘This means that I am doing something right,’ he laughed.
‘I am trying to fly the flag for West Cork people over here so this is an amazing award to win.
‘Even though I’ve been away for 12 years, it’s great that West Cork is still keeping an eye on me because that’s where I’m from and it’s where I grew up, and it means a lot to be recognised with this award.
‘There are fantastic sportspeople in West Cork, lots of amazing sportsmen and sportswomen, so I’m delighted to be chosen as the overall winner. I have won monthly awards a couple of times over the last few years so to win the main award this time is great.’
Hourihane emerged as the 2019 West Cork Sports Star of the Year after a terrific 12 months that included highlights like:
- Scoring his first goal for the Republic of Ireland.
- Scoring the winning goal for the Republic of Ireland in a Euro 2020 qualifier victory against Georgia.
- Winning the man of the match award in the Republic of Ireland’s Euro 2020 qualifier win against Gibraltar.
- Becoming West Cork’s first-ever Premier League footballer.
- Becoming the first West Cork player to ever score a goal in the Premier League.
The former Bandon AFC player is intent on building on his 2019 success this year, as he helps Villa in their relegation battle while Ireland have a crucial Euro 2020 play-off in March.
‘I am hoping for more of the same this year,’ Hourihane said.
‘I want to add a couple of more goals in the green jersey, I have 17 caps and only one goal. It was great to get that first goal but I am still looking for more.
‘I want more Premier League minutes, more Premier League goals and I want to establish myself at this level. It’s not easy but I will be doing my utmost to make the journey continue.
‘Fingers crossed that come March we will have got to the Euros with Ireland and in May we will have stayed in the Premier League with Villa, they are the short-term goals at least.’
It’s been an amazing 12 months for West Cork’s Sports Star of the Year.