CONOR Hourihane’s future with Barnsley will become a lot clearer within the next month.
The Bandon man is in no rush to decide his next move following his fantastic end to the season with Barnsley. He captained the Tykes to League 1 play-off final glory at Wembley last Sunday as they won promotion to the English Championship for next season following a 3-1 win against Millwall.
It means that Hourihane (25) will be playing Championship football next season but with only one year left on his contract with Barnsley, which expires in the summer of 2017, there has been reported interest from a number of clubs, including Rangers, in the former Bandon AFC and Douglas Hall AFC underage starlet.
Midfielder Hourihane finished the season with 11 goals and 18 assists, but after flying out to Dubai on Tuesday for a well-earned holiday, he told The Southern Star that his future should become a lot clearer within the next month.
‘I’m not really sure what’s happening. We’ll have to wait and see. It’s not something I am not really thinking about at the moment,’ Hourihane said.
‘There was a lot of transfer speculation surrounding a couple of us depending on whether we got promoted or stayed in League 1 – but we’ll wait and see what happens over the next three to four weeks. For now, I want to relax and enjoy my holidays.’
Hourihane’s stock has risen considerably in his two seasons with Barnsley, and after being handed the captain’s armband late last year, he led the club from bottom of League 1 to two trophies at Wembley – the Johnstone’s Paint Trophy and the League 1 play-off win.
Already, the driven West Cork export is relishing the challenge that the Championship will bring, with trips to Newcastle United and Aston Villa on the cards, while he has some unfinished business with Ipswich Town following his time spent there.
‘It’s a league I have never played in and I’m looking forward to testing myself in there. I want to cement my place as a Championship player, I don’t want to be going back down to League 1. I want to stay in the Championship,’ Hourihane said.
‘It’s more about going to places like Villa Park, St James’ Park, Derby County, and Ipswich for me will be a nice one because I had a bit of a run-in with them a few years ago. I had to take a few steps back to go forward, to get back into the same league as Ipswich so I’ll be looking forward to that one.
‘It’s taken hard work and a lot of hard hours, there’s no rocket science behind this, it’s about putting in the hard shift and, hopefully, getting the rewards.
‘I’m looking forward to testing myself in the Championship, I’m not scared of it.’
He added: ‘I constantly want to improve. Every single day whether I’m on the pitch or inside in the gym, I always try to improve. All of a sudden I am nine years into being in England and in another nine years it could be all over – it flies by and you need to make the most of each day.’