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Hourihane vows to clean up act and help steer Pilgrims to safer waters

By Western Morning News  |  Posted: November 16, 2012

Plymouth Argyle midfielder Conor Hourihane (centre) gets stuck in against Dorchester Town but did not stay on the pitch for long Dave Rowntree/pinnacle

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Plymouth Argyle midfielder Conor Hourihane has put his recent run-ins with referees behind him and is focusing on producing performances which make sure that he stays in the side.

The 21-year-old has had to serve two separate one-match suspensions in the past three weeks.

First, Hourihane received a fifth yellow card of the season in the 2-1 npower League Two defeat at Cheltenham Town on October 23.

Referee Stephen Martin decided the Irish midfielder had dived when challenged by an opposing player. That led to Hourihane being banned when Argyle lost 1-0 at Rotherham United four days later.

He returned to the starting line-up for the FA Cup first round tie at non-League side Dorchester Town on November 4, but was sent off for a second bookable offence in only the ninth minute.

Hourihane was controversially dismissed by referee Lee Collins for taking a free-kick before he had blown his whistle, after being earlier booked for a high tackle.

Argyle had only ten players for the rest of the first-round tie at the Avenue Stadium and were beaten 1-0.

Hourihane was suspended for the 2-1 home League Two defeat to Burton Albion three days later, and manager Carl Fletcher then recalled him for the 2-2 draw against League Two leaders Gillingham last Saturday.

Fletcher was furious about Hourihane's booking against Cheltenham, which led to his first ban.

Hourihane said: "Sometimes the referees get it wrong. I think diving and all that kind of stuff has been in the papers quite a lot recently.

"I think some of the referees are looking at too many Premier League games.

"It's one of those things and you just have to get on with it," added the former Sunderland and Ipswich Town midfielder.

Fletcher allowed Hourihane some time off to spend with his family in Ireland when he was suspended for the trip to Rotherham.

Hourihane said: "Come three o'clock that Saturday, I was thinking: 'I would just love to be out there'. It was very frustrating."

The circumstances of his dismissal against Dorchester, which came under the glare of ESPN's television cameras, were widely criticised.

Hourihane said: "Obviously, I don't think I should have been sent off but you just have to move on.

"The gaffer [Fletcher] was very supportive of me and I think everyone that saw it knew the referee had got it wrong.

"Fair play to Dorchester, they won the game. I didn't really watch it, to be honest.

"I was in the dressing room for a while and I was in the stand for a while, but I couldn't watch it. It was a frustrating day all round for the team."

He continued: "I was delighted to get back out there last Saturday [against Gillingham] because it was a frustrating week for me, and it was good to get the point off the leaders. Hopefully, it's onwards and upwards."

Plymouth took a 2-1 lead against the Kent side in the 80th minute with a goal from Luke Young, but former Argyle centre-back Adam Barrett equalised late on.

Hourihane said: "When all the lads put in a good shift and we are all play well, not many teams will stop us.

"Hopefully, we can take that into the game at Fleetwood on Saturday and get something off them as well."

Argyle had lost four successive matches in all competitions before their draw with Gillingham. So, although the players were disappointed not to hold on to their lead against the table-toppers, it at least gave them reasons for optimism. Hourihane said: "Before the game, I think we would have taken a point, just to stop the rot. We have to look at the positives."

Argyle's trip to fifth-placed Fleetwood Town tomorrow is followed by an away game against Bradford City, who are in fourth position, on Tuesday. Hourihane is not daunted by that prospect, however. "Hopefully, a win is just around the corner for us," he said.

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