“IT was the stuff of dreams for the students to play with a professional soccer player’ said Méabh Hennessey the principal of Bandon primary school Scoil Phádraig Naofa after Conor Hourihane joined their pupils for a soccer game on Wednesday afternoon.
The Republic of Ireland senior player is currently home on holidays in his native Bandon, following a gruelling domestic and international campaign.
The Aston Villa player (currently on loan to Swansea) happened to be passing through the town on Wednesday afternoon when he spotted his friend and teacher Richard O’Regan playing soccer with the fifth and sixth class boys from Scoil Phádraig Naofa in the Town Park pitch.
The school principal said the students had a wonderful time playing soccer with their ‘idol’.
“Conor was passing the Town Park and spotted Richard O’Regan, a teacher in the school playing soccer with the pupils. He popped in to say hello to the students. Conor then jumped in goal and played a game of soccer with them. The students just had a wonderful time,” she said.
Ms Hennessy said that the Bandon soccer star has been a ‘wonderful’ friend to Scoil Phádraig Naofa down through the years.
“Conor has been a wonderful friend to our school. He has done so many different things to help our students. He has sent us virtual videos for graduations.
“He is so down to earth. We are all so proud of him. He is a wonderful role model for our boys. They look up to him and they will never forget the moment they had a kick around with a soccer star,” she added.
Ms Hennessy said the fifth and sixth-class pupils were ‘buzzing’ after soccer game with the Irish international.
“They were absolutely delighted. It was so fortunate that he was passing the soccer pitch at the same time they were there. The pupils were playing away and enjoying themselves when they were suddenly joined by a Premier League player. He stayed a long time with them.
As the pupils are nearing the end of the school year, they are currently engaging in a series of school tours and activity days. Ms Hennessy said Conor emphasised the importance of staying active to the awestruck students. “We are always doing our best to get the students active as much as possible. We are very fortunate to be so close to the Town Park pitch and we are very grateful to get the use of it every so often.
“To have a soccer star in our local community is unreal. It is lovely he took the time to play soccer with the pupils. He also had a chat with them after their game. He told the students to keep going and follow their dreams,” she added.