Conor Hourihane: 'Everyone just needs to breathe and relax a bit'

The midfielder will be looking to help Ireland end their winless run against Andorra tomorrow on the back of Swansea City's Championship playoff final defeat to Brentford
Conor Hourihane: 'Everyone just needs to breathe and relax a bit'

Conor Hourihane during a Republic of Ireland training session at PGA Catalunya Resort in Girona, Spain. Photo by Stephen McCarthy/Sportsfile

BANDON'S Conor Hourihane doesn’t need instruction in "must-win" games, or how it feels to lose them.

The Cork-born midfielder arrived into the Republic of Ireland team camp early this week on the back of Swansea City’s devastating 2-0 loss to Brentford in the English Championship play-off final, otherwise known as the most lucrative game in football because of the riches on offer in the Premier League.

Hard to get more important than that.

“It's always great to meet up with the (Ireland) lads,” said Hourihane. 

“I was eager to get here after the final whistle, I missed the March camp as well so I haven't seen a lot of people for quite a while as well.

“So I am looking forward to tomorrow and Hungary as well, just to get back out there, forget about the weekend as best as possible. 

"It was obviously very disappointing but that's life and you have to keep cracking on, keep moving in the right direction.” 

An end-of-season friendly against Andorra rather pales in comparison to the do-or-die occasion in Wembley and yet Hourihane, Stephen Kenny and the rest of the squad find themselves under serious pressure after a run of 12 games without a win, eleven of them under the current manager.

Hourihane was asked multiple times today, ahead of tomorrow evening’s meeting with the tiny principality, if this was a must-win affair and, like Kenny this last week, he shied away from framing it in such stark terms.

So, is he confident of getting the win?

Swansea City's Conor Hourihane and Brentford's Mathias Jensen battle for the ball during the Sky Bet Championship playoff final at Wembley Stadium, London.
Swansea City's Conor Hourihane and Brentford's Mathias Jensen battle for the ball during the Sky Bet Championship playoff final at Wembley Stadium, London.

“Yeah of course. Why not? The vibe’s been good in the camp since I’ve come into it. 

"We got some work on the training ground, of course. There will always be that little bit in your head that you are desperate to get that result.

But I think everyone just needs to breathe and relax a little bit. It will come if we keep doing the right things; repetition, repetition, repetition on the training ground to get better .

"Hopefully that comes tomorrow night so we don’t have to answer any more of these questions from you lot, asking about wins.” 

Like it or not, a failure to claim that overdue win tomorrow and the knives will really be out for Kenny, regardless of the cultural revolution he is trying to push through with the senior national team, or the quantity of new faces being ushered into the squad.

Though he is missing a cadre of regulars for this current get-together, it has at least been an opportunity to spend an elongated period of time with his troops and instil in them the type of game he wants to play after the cascade of games stretching back to last autumn.

“There have just been more training sessions, more detail, more work as a team on our strengths, what we need to improve on, and just a general mix of all different types of bits and pieces,” said Hourihane.

“Everything probably at the minute for us needs to get better to win games of football. There have been times over the last few days, since I joined anyway, where we’ve been working on improving all aspects of our game to become stronger and better.

Hopefully that will show over the next two games and show that we’ve been working on the right things and we can become better as a team.

For Hourihane it has been an eventful four months or so since he swapped life on the bench with Aston Villa for a central role with Swansea and the question now is where the road takes him next when he returns to Birmingham and his parent club for pre-season training.

“Probably so, there's no getting away from that but firstly I have a couple of games with Ireland, then I'll get a bit of down time, relaxation time as we have had two back-to-back seasons, pretty much relentless for a long period of time.

“Then we'll see what happens with the future after these games. I will be heading back to Villa for pre-season and see where we go from there.”

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