BY KIERAN McCARTHY
AFTER signing a contract extension with Aston Villa, Conor Hourihane revealed the secret to his rise from League Two to the Premier League in just five years – it’s hard work.
The Bandon man put pen to paper on a new deal just weeks ahead of his first Premier League campaign.
The 28-year-old midfielder is West Cork’s first-ever Premier League footballer after playing a key role in Villa’s promotion from the Championship last season. Since he joined the Villains in January 2017 from Barnsley, Hourihane has scored 21 times and has 16 assists in 111 appearances.
His rise through the ranks is Roy of the Rovers’ stuff – from Plymouth Argyle in League Two, to Barnsley in League One and winning promotion there and now helping Villa earn their place in the Premier League, it’s been an incredible journey for the former Bandon AFC starlet.
‘I am quietly very pleased about that (going from League Two to the Premier League in five seasons). I have worked tirelessly. I am one of those lads who is first in and last out every single day. I take huge pride in working hard every day and making the most of every day. This contract and heading into the Premier League is a little reward for all the hard work,’ Hourihane said.
‘That’s my secret – I always think that hard work gets you the rewards. Over the last five years I have left no stone unturned and done everything possible to reach a point like this. I am quietly pleased but there’s a lot more hard work to go.’
These are exciting times for Hourihane and Villa ahead of the Premier League kick-off next month, and the Republic of Ireland midfielder is looking forward to testing himself against the best in the world.
‘It’s not going to be easy, there is a huge gap between the Championship and the Premier League,’ Hourihane said.
‘We won’t be naïve heading into the Premier League, we know it’s going to be tough but I am looking forward to it. I have always had challenges over my career.
‘To go from League Two to the Premier League hasn’t been easy, there have been ups and downs, there have been challenges along the way and I always seem to be able to rise to the challenge and I feel like this one will be no different.’
On his contract extension with Villa, Hourihane added: ‘I’m glad to sign and look forward to being here for seasons ahead. I’ve waited all my career for the opportunity to play at this level and the time has now arrived.’