Conor keen for another Roy reunion
Ireland reward thanks to hard work
His relationship with Roy Keane isn't the only reason why Barnsley's Conor Hourihane has earned a call-up to the senior Ireland squad for the upcoming World Cup qualifiers against Georgia and Moldova.
But the 25-year-old, who has received his senior summons on the back of some impressive form for the Tykes in the Championship, is already looking forward to working with Keane for the third time in his career, the first at international level.
Capped eight times at U21 level (2010-12), Hourihane was included in the 33-man panel named last week by Martin O'Neill for the World Cup double header.
He enters a congested area in midfield: David Meyler (Hull) was the only Irish player to score in England's top two divisions over the weekend but despite scoring a top-flight goal Meyler has been an unused sub for the last six internationals.
So getting into the final squad, let alone the team, will be a challenge, But he's keen to reunite with Keane again, his former boss at Sunderland and Ipswich.
"I've known him down the years, he signed me for two clubs and he drops me a text every now and again. He's a fellow Cork man and you look after your own when you're in a new country over here in England.
"I've always looked up to him; he's been my hero ever since I was young. It'll be nice to see him again and hopefully learn more things from him," says Hourihane, still on a high from his call-up.
"It's something that I've been working towards for a long time. It's been a long road, there have been a lot of ups and downs, a lot of hard work - it's paying off slowly but surely, but there is still a lot of hard work to do, still a lot of places that I want to go.
"it's just another good step in the right direction."
The weekend didn't go according to plan for Hourihane as his Barnsley side went down 2-0 to Brighton, though Robbie Brady and Wes Hoolahan both started for a table-topping Norwich City.
O'Neill has a number of concerns apart from James McCarthy, with Shane Long only a late sub for Southampton yesterday and Daryl Murphy benched by Newcastle.