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Revitalised Horgan inspired by some words of wisdom from five-year-old son

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Daryl Horgan

Daryl Horgan

SPORTSFILE

Daryl Horgan

Should Daryl Horgan maintain his status as a part of Ireland's front three in Wembley tomorrow night, there is one confidante he may thank for the resuscitation of a once dormant international career.

Jack Horgan, his five-year-old son.

Born when Horgan was establishing himself with his current international manager, Stephen Kenny, at all-conquering Dundalk, father and son went across the water but, after a fleeting dalliance with the international side, dad fell out of favour.

A struggling sophomore season with Preston, whom he had joined in 2016, ultimately led to his move north to Hibs but, since winning his fourth cap in 2018, he was then omitted by Martin O'Neill and never featured for Mick McCarthy.

A move south last summer, to Wycombe, appears to have revived him, however. And while it may have taken a Covid-19 scare in the Irish camp for the 28-year-old to win his first cap in 26 months against Wales last month, Kenny's decision to retain him for the match in Helsinki against Finland reflected his revived status.

And so perhaps now he can reflect on the struggles which condemned him to a life in exile from the international arena.

"I used to be very, very hard on myself," he remarks honestly, a singular trait of the Galwegian,

"And you see that in my game, there's no two ways about it. So, I've worked on that, I've worked on improving and not beating myself up. So that's definitely helped obviously.

Competitive

"The move has probably helped because I'm playing more regularly and in a side that's become very, very competitive in the championship.

"That's been a big plus as well, getting in and playing as much as I can. Getting that run of games has helped everything; fitness, sharpness, the whole lot. And, you know, I was always trying to do the right thing: work as hard as I could and play as well as I can, but I'd say that not being overly critical was the biggest change.

"Ireland was always in the forefront of my thoughts, because everyone wants to play for their country and it was down to me to improve and to get that opportunity and thankfully I did."

He admits he had dark times as he navigated a more difficult route than that which we are normally used to seeing when he slaloms past thickets of defender's legs with his mazy dribbling.

A little help from his little friend helped.

"Very tough," he admits. "Yeah, very tough because it's almost ingrained in your head from when I was younger.

"So I'm still not perfect by any stretch but there's definite improvements. My little man was the one that really helped me.

"Because he was giving out to me for beating myself up, and if someone who is a little five-year-old has more emotional maturity than yourself then you know you're in trouble."

Now he has the opportunity to renew his positive relationship with Kenny.

"I was probably thinking I'd be very fortunate to get an opportunity to get back in and thankfully the opportunity presented itself.

"Thankfully I've done enough in the manager's eyes to stay in for another trip.

"So for me it depends on doing as well as I can in training and try to get an opportunity to play.

"Hopefully there is a chance for us and for me.

"It's very good for me, because I know what he's about, what he likes and, you know, the way he is and the way he wants football to be played but for him he's just looking for the best players that are available to him.

"If I wasn't playing well he was never going to pick me because he's got quite a lot of depth of talent," adds Horgan.


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