Ahead of a possible 100th appearance for Aston Villa this weekend, we take a look at the best memories Conor Hourihane has provided us.
Words by Regan Foy (@FindFoy)
Conor Hourihane has divided opinion more than most players during his time at Aston Villa, and no more than this season.
But regardless, should he start or make an appearance from the bench tomorrow against Birmingham in the Second City Derby – his century of appearances have provided Aston Villa fans with some of the fondest memories since being in the Sky Bet Championship.
We’re going to walk you through memory lane as we look at his five most impressive moments for the Villa.
5 – Demolition Against Derby
This one will be fresh in the memory for hopefully everyone, unless you went and celebrated a bit too heavily after Aston Villa demolished Derby County 4-0 last weekend.
Conor Hourihane popped up with a brace and could have quite easily come away with a hat-trick if the home side pushed on a little more in the second half.
The Irish midfielder was played in a more progressive role than usual, and he certainly made sure he’d be playing there again soon, by pairing up with Tammy Abraham on two occasions to slot two home past Scott Carson with relative ease.
4 – Buoyed at Blackburn
Conor Hourihane found himself benched in this game, with then manager Steve Bruce preferring a midfield pairing of John McGinn and Mile Jedinak – and it wasn’t the first time that Conor was sidelined by Steve Bruce at the start of the season.
With pressure increasing surrounding Bruce’s future at the club, Aston Villa found themselves 1-0 down thanks to a goal from Blackburn’s Bradley Dack.
Hourihane graced the pitch a minute later and the tides did seem to change a little, but Aston Villa looked like they had no business doing anything but losing this game.
The 93rd minute hits and it looks like Villa are going home defeated – but they win a free kick and up steps Irishman Conor Hourihane.
A perfectly curling free-kick spins past the wall and the outstretched hand of Raya, and into the back of the net. A simply stupendous goal, and one that probably gave Steve Bruce a little more time in the job.
3 – Irish Connections
Earlier this season, Aston Villa found themselves 2-0 up against Middlesbrough, who at the time had the best defensive record across the English Football leagues.
Fellow Irishman Glenn Whelan had just come on to the pitch to try and sure up the game and ensure there was no chance of Middlesbrough coming back into the game.
Anwar El Ghazi found Hourihane near the edge of the box, and could have tried to tuck a shot away – but instead calmly took a touch and played a close-range, slow ball to Glenn Whelan who powered it towards Randolph in goal.
The ‘keeper fumbled it and we were 3-0 up. Great awareness from Hourihane.
2 – Bye-bye Blues
Possibly his best goal in an Aston Villa shirt to date, Conor Hourihane scored an absolute world-beating volley against local rivals Birmingham City last season at Villa Park.
John Terry played a long ball forward, which was headed away by a Birmingham City defender.
Hourihane was quick to react, chested the ball into the floor and struck the resulting bounce so sweetly that it flew past the Blues ‘keeper, leaving him red faced and Hourihane wheeling off in delight.
1 – Canaries Chaos
What a game this was for Conor Hourihane, as he scored three goals against Norwich City – the first Aston Villa hat-trick at the time since Christian Benteke against Queens Park Rangers in 2015.
Teenager Keinan Davis set up Hourihane’s first, as the midfielder sprinted on to the striker’s pass at the back post and slotted it past then Canaries ‘keeper Angus Gunn.
His second was a hopeful 25-yard strike with his right foot, which took a deflection before nestling in the top-left corner.
He was outside the box for his hat-trick too, with a left footed shot past Angus Gunn.