When the 21-times capped Republic of Ireland international signed up with the Football Association of Ireland to*begin his UEFA B Licence everything was delayed due to*the outbreak of COVID.
However, the Coach Education Department found a solution by restructuring the course with online modules to cater for Hourihane and his colleagues, amongst whom is James McClean, Stephen Ward,*Richard Keogh, James Collins and Callum O'Dowda.
Led by FAI Head of Coach Education Niall O'Regan and Coach Education Coordinator Craig Sexton, the first block of the course was delivered online with expert assistance from Avenir Sports and an introduction to performance analysis software such as WyScout.
Hourihane said: "I had been looking at starting my coaching qualifications for a little while so when the FAI got in touch about it I jumped at it. Then COVID hit and everything was put on hold. But credit to Niall O'Regan and Craig Sexton, they got things up and running by starting the course online.
"Obviously I'd prefer to be doing everything face to face, with all of the other coaches in the room and on the pitch, but making a start at it in these uncertain times is a bonus. And I have to admit that it's been very enjoyable so far with great interaction and everything set up well.
"I'm looking forward to the next block, where we can hopefully get onto the pitch, but the online sessions have been great. It's a modern way of learning and we all have to adapt to the current situation around the world, so I'd encourage all coaches to embrace it."
This is the first step for Aston Villa midfielder Hourihane on his way to earning coaching qualifications and it has been a positive experience thus far. In fact, he cannot wait for the second block to come around.
Hourihane, who has four goals and six assists in the English Premier League, is following a similar path to many recent Ireland internationals who started their coaching adventure with the FAI before putting their learning into practice.
"It's hugely encouraging to see the likes of Keith Andrews & Damien Duff with the senior team, Robbie Keane being in there before them,*John O'Shea*with the Under-21s, and Andy Reid with the Under-18s, knowing that they were former international players who followed the same path and are now doing well in their respective coaching positions," said Hourihane.
"I'm fully focused on my career with Aston Villa and Ireland, but it's good to keep on learning. I'd like to try coaching, especially once I finish playing, so getting a headstart is no harm. Learning more about the game will surely help me as a player so I'm benefitting both ways."
Applications are now open for UEFA Elite Youth A, UEFA B & UEFA A Licence courses in 2021.*Click here for more information



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Introduction:
Adapting to restrictions brought on by COVID-19 is something that Conor Hourihane knows all too well, but it has not stopped him from starting his coaching journey.




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