It’s safe to say that Conor Hourihane will remain a player that is fondly remembered by Barnsley supporters for his efforts whilst playing for the Tykes.
The midfielder made 134 appearances in total for Barnsley, and played his part in their promotion-winning season in League One during the 2015/16 campaign.
Hourihane’s three-year stay with Barnsley came to an end in January 2017, when he decided to move to Aston Villa, who later went on to win promotion back into the Premier League under Dean Smith’s guidance.
Speaking in an interview on the Going Up, Going Down Podcast, Hourihane admitted that there wasn’t a point whilst with Barnsley that he was going to extend his stay at Oakwell.
“There was a part of me that wanted to stay and see out my contract. Probably if I’m being honest with you there was never a stage where I was going to sign a new contract but there was always a part of me wondering ‘should I just stay till the end of the season and go on a free in the summer?'”
Hourihane also revealed that Barnsley’s rivals Sheffield Wednesday were interested in landing his signature, but the midfielder insisted that he didn’t pursue a move to Hillsborough out of respect to the Tykes, which will be some consolation to the club’s supporters.
“There was some other clubs who said if I saw my contract out they’d want to sign me on a free in the summer. This was way back in probably December time. I’ve no problem saying it, it was Sheffield Wednesday and Fulham all the way until probably coming up to Christmas time.
“I thought ‘I can’t go to Sheffield Wednesday, no way’. I’d ruin the relationship I’d got with the club.”
The Irishman then stated his reasoning for moving to Aston Villa, and felt that it was an offer that he couldn’t afford to turn down at that stage of his career.
“Then around Christmas time Bruce and Villa came in and I thought ‘I don’t think I can turn down Villa’.
“You never know what can happen if I’d stayed till the summer with six months to go on my contract: I could get injured, I could lose form.
“Villa just felt like the right fit. It wasn’t too far away from Sheffield where I was quite settled and loved the city living there, and it just felt like the right club to go to.”
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This will feel like the one that got away for Sheffield Wednesday in particular.
Hourihane was brilliant for Barnsley towards the end of his spell with the Tykes, and it came as no surprise to see him attracting interest from other clubs at the time.
A move to Sheffield Wednesday would have been a tempting proposition as they were in a better position than Barnsley were, but it’s good to hear that Hourihane was keen not to tarnish his reputation with Barnsley.
He’s certainly impressed whilst with Aston Villa, and played a key role in their promotion into the Premier League last season under the guidance of Dean Smith.
Sheffield Wednesday could certainly benefit from having a player of his creative ability in their team this season.