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'He was a nuisance that night and I was delighted to see him go off' - Conor Hourihane on Aaron Connolly

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Conor Hourihane, left, and Alan Browne arrive for a Republic of Ireland press conference

Conor Hourihane, left, and Alan Browne arrive for a Republic of Ireland press conference

SPORTSFILE

Conor Hourihane, left, and Alan Browne arrive for a Republic of Ireland press conference

IRELAND midfielder Conor Hourihane says he has no doubt about the ability of "nuisance" teenager Aaron Connolly to step up on the senior international stage over the next week.

Aston Villa man Hourihane enjoyed his weekend as he scored the first goal of his Premier League career, for Aston Villa in their 5-1 win over Norwich City, on the same day that Connolly (19) found the net twice, for Brighton against Spurs.

Hourihane had been given a glimpse of the Galway man's talent when Brighton played Villa in the League Cup and he feels that Connolly can make the step up.

"It's fantastic because it's great for the Irish setup when lads are doing well," Hourihane says of Connolly's goals on his full Premier League debut.

"I played against him in the Cup, against Brighton, he played for 60 minutes and he gave our two center-halves a tough night, so it was no surprise for me to see him banging in two goals, having given our two center-halves a tough day at the office.

"He was a nuisance that night and I was delighted to see him go off, he could have scored a couple of goals, he gives defenders a tough night, our defenders were also delighted to see him go off.

"Everyone who is in the squad, the gaffer feels they can make an impact and push everyone for their positions, if you are in the squad you are good enough to play so there are no worries for Aaron or anyone else in the squad."

Hourihane is on a high, having scored his first international goal and Premier League goal this year but he says he can't rest on his laurels.

"I am never satisfied with my game, I am my own worst critic," he says.

"Maybe later in my career I will look back on it [that Ireland goal against Georgia] with pride but it's not time for that now.

"I want to score more goals, I have 14 caps and scored one, it was great to get my first goal, an important one but I want more goals, in the next five or six games I might nick one or two."

Meanwhile, Hourihane says that Georgia's ability to take Euro 2020 qualifying points from rivals Denmark should make Irish fans wary ahead of Saturday's game in Tbilisi.

"The last time we went there I was on the bench, [Shane] Duffy scored, it was a tough night, it's never been easy there," says the Aston Villa player.

"Denmark are a good side and Georgia held them to a 0-0 draw, we need to be aware of that

"They are a good footballing side, they have good technical players, they are improving every year and get better every year, we knew the two games against them would be tough, luckily enough we overcame them at home so we have to go there and do the same.

"We need to work hard and give ourselves the best chance possible to get a result.

"They will feel like they owe us one but we have to be ready and hopefully by Saturday evening we'll have a good result."

Online Editors