Sport

Hourihane targets summer friendlies

April 10th, 2017 1:00 PM

By Kieran McCarthy

Special moment: Bandon's Conor Hourihane made his Republic of Ireland senior debut in the recent international friendly match against Iceland at the Aviva Stadium.

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CONOR Hourihane is targeting a strong finish to the Championship campaign with Aston Villa to boost his Republic of Ireland chances.

The Bandon star (26) made his senior international debut against Iceland last week and he wants to be involved in the summer friendlies against Mexico on June 1st in New Jersey and Uruguay on June 4th at the Aviva Stadium ahead of the crucial World Cup qualifier at home to Austria on June 11th.

Having been on the bench for the World Cup qualifier draw with Wales and then making his debut in the 1-0 loss against Iceland, Villa midfielder Hourihane is eager to be part of Martin O’Neill’s plans for the summer matches.

‘Hopefully I’ll be involved for those games,’ he told The Southern Star.

‘I have six games left for Villa, it’s up to me to play well in those games and if I do play well, it’s up to the manager to pick me. We’ll wait and see. It’s about Villa from now to the end of the season, I want to finish the season strong and be involved in those friendlies.

‘I want more, to be honest. You’d never settle for just one cap. Don’t get me wrong, it’s a great achievement to win my first cap, I’m proud of that and I’ve come a long way to get to this level, but one cap won’t satisfy me. I wish the game went a different way, I wish we won first and foremost, but that’s just me, I’m always looking for more.

‘I’ve come a long way from League 2 (with Plymouth Argyle) to international level and there’s no rocket science behind it, it’s just working hard and wanting to prove people wrong along the way.

‘I’ve had to do it the hard way but I wouldn’t change any of it, to be honest.

‘I’ve got there now but I’m not satisfied with that, I want to push on and achieve more.’

The former Bandon AFC and Douglas Hall starlet found out he was making his Republic of Ireland debut against Iceland in the dressing-room before the game. Manager Martin O’Neill told him he had earned his chance and to enjoy the game and the occasion.

‘It went okay, considering it was my first international game,’ Hourihane reflected.

‘There were a lot of family and friends there, and there were nerves too because it’s a moment I have dreamt about for a long time. You’d dream of going out winning 4-0 in a comfortable victory; it didn’t go that way unfortunately. It was tough, a hard night’s work, but it was still nice to get my first cap. 

‘The game didn’t turn out as well as I wanted it to but when I do look back on it, it was a very proud moment to wear the green jersey and sing the national anthem with my mom and dad, and brother and sister in the stand.

‘It’s a good stepping stone in the direction of where I want to go and what I want to achieve in my career.

‘Overall I can’t complain. Hopefully there’s more to come.’

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