McCarthy: I wanted to sign Conor

By Graham Hill

MICK MCCARTHY hailed Villa duo Conor Hourihane and Glenn Whelan after the Republic of Ireland’s Euro 2020 qualifying win against Georgia.

And ex-Wolves boss McCarthy revealed he tried to sign Hourihane when he was Ipswich Town manager.

The Ireland boss saw Hourihane score the only goal of the game with a brilliant, trademark, free-kick from the midfielder.

It was Hourihane’s first international goal and came after a tennis ball protest by Irish fans at the Aviva stadium.

They were unhappy with FAI official John Delaney – but the incident had the effect of leading to Hourihane’s goal.

Villa team-mate Whelan also produced another industrious display – typical of his recent performances for Dean Smith.

The pair clicked for Ireland as they have been doing for Villa as they made it two wins out of two for McCarthy’s side in the qualifying campaign.

And the Ireland boss was quick to recognised the duo’s conribution.

McCarthy admitted he was not surprised by Hourihane’s 35th minute strike and he told Sky Sports: “He’s got a wonderful left foot.

“His free-kicks against Gibraltar on Saturday were magnificent.

“I’ve always admired him and tried to sign him at one time.

“But there was no money… the usual!

“I’ve been really impressed with him and Jeff Hendrick playing in there.

“But I have to say the old stalwart Glenn Whelan was excellent too.”

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