BY KIERAN McCARTHY
BANDON’S Conor Hourihane will do what no other West Cork sportsperson has done before – captain a team at a cup final at Wembley.
Last Thursday, the 24-year-old played a captain’s role and led by example as he inspired Barnsley to a first trip to Wembley since 2008, after the Tykes edged past Fleetwood Town in the second leg of the Johnstone’s Paint Trophy semi-final.
Hourihane grabbed a second-half lead goal for Barnsley before home side Fleetwood levelled the tie (1-1), and after it finished 2-2 on aggregate, the semi-final was decided on penalties. West Cork-born midfielder Hourihane made no mistake with his as Barnsley advanced to the cup final in Wembley after winning the shoot-out 4-2.
Barnsley will take on League Two outfit Oxford in the Johnstone’s Paint Trophy final on Sunday, April 3rd, and as Hourihane told The Southern Star this week, he can’t wait to lead his side out at Wembley.
‘It’s going to be a great occasion and a great day, and there’ll be a lot of family coming over from West Cork. Hopefully, we can finish it off with a win at Wembley. It’s great to get to a cup final there but we need to get the job done now,’ the Bandon soccer star said.
‘Not many people get to play in Wembley so we’re lucky in that sense. Being captain as well, it means I’ll get to lead the team out, which is a huge honour and something that not many people get the opportunity to do.
‘When I was a kid growing up I pictured myself in Croke Park winning an All-Ireland medal with Cork, but times change and circumstances change, and I’m now looking forward to a cup final in Wembley.’
Man of the match against Fleetwood Town, Hourihane – recently promoted to club captain – is enjoyed another stellar season with Barnsley, who are currently the form team in League One.
Last Sunday’s 3-0 home win at Oakwell against Bury was their seventh league success in a row and leaves them five points outside the play-off places, despite a terrible run earlier in the season. Hourihane helped himself to two more assists in Barnsley’s latest victory.
• See page 13 for the full
Conor Hourihane Interview.