Conor Hourihane's 'dreams' and Glenn Whelan's family snap - Irish stars celebrate Aston Villa promotion
Irish duo Conor Hourihane and Glenn Whelan celebrated Aston Villa's return to the Premier League in style after yesterday's Championship play-off final victory over Derby County at Wembley.
Cork-born Hourihane, who played a full game in the 2-1 win over Frank Lampard's Rams took to social media to pose with the trophy and announce the Birmingham club's return to the English top flight after a three-year absence.
PREMIER LEAGUE!! What dreams are made of!! 💜🙌🏻 pic.twitter.com/GGI9JnGQOE— Conor Hourihane (@ConorHourihane) May 27, 2019
Glenn Whelan's wife Karen also tweeted a heartwarming family picture at Wembley, while dropping a cryptic message that the 35-year-old Glenn might be moving from Villa in the summer.
She tweeted: "Absolutely buzzing, so proud of My Whelo ❤️⚽️ #WHATWILLBEWILLBE #EXCITEDFORWHATEVERCOMESNEXT"
Whelan is out of contract next month, has played 582 club games so far in his career, but claimed before the Wembley win that he was far from finished.
The immediate future of the midfielder may depend on whether Villa boss Dean Smith offers the 85-times capped star a new deal.
Irish and Villa legend Paul McGrath, also took to social media to celebrate the win, even though the former star defender also played for Derby during a glittering career.
"I Am proud . Respect to Derby Co . Sorry one of us had to not make it . Brilliant Aston Villa XXX. Dean your my Hero #UTV. Much love"
It was an emotional day for Villa boss Dean Smith and his family, all brought up as Villa fans, and especially after he had revealed his Villa-supporting father Ron suffers from dementia and does not know his son is the head coach.
"I went to see my old man on Friday and he kept his eyes open for two minutes," said Smith.
"I told him the next time I come to see him I'll be a Premier League manager, and he smiled."
The former Walsall and Brentford chief added: "Reality has just set in. It all feels a little bit surreal but it's no more than those lads deserve and no more than this football club deserves.
"The potential of the club is massive. It feels right. I believe this is a Premier League club. That's not me speaking with a supporters' head on. History tells you that.
"We've fallen on hard times. Last season was tough for everyone who went through the defeat here to Fulham.
"The players and the owners deserve what we are going to get."
Anwar El Ghazi put Villa in the lead with his first-half strike before John McGinn doubled their lead with 30 minutes left.
With seven minutes of injury time after Jack Marriott's deflected effort gave Derby hope, they were ultimately unable to find the equaliser.
Villa right back Ahmed Elmohamady has been at the club for two years and said on instagram: "Job done, back to the big league."
Westmeath-born singer Niall Horan - a Derby fan - added he was "proud" of his side's performance.