Hibs' Daryl Horgan: I need to stop being so hard on myself

Irish winger admits he doesn't deal well with meeting his expectations

Monday, 16th December 2019, 11:50 am
Updated Monday, 16th December 2019, 11:58 am
Daryl Horgan. Pic: SNS

Daryl Horgan knows he needs to learn how to stop beating himself up, the Hibs winger revealing he lies awake at night after matches “staring at the wall thinking of the two crosses I over-hit".

It is, he admitted, “mental” and shouldn’t be that way, that at the age of 27 he should realise perfection in all he does is virtually impossible and yet the older he gets the worse it gets.

Unsurprisingly, Horgan has been seeking help for what he concedes is a self-inflicted problem and one which has affected the former Dundalk and Preston North End player throughout his career.

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Having spent his early years playing for Salthill Devon, Sligo Rovers and Cork City, Horgan found the spotlight turned on him as he played in all six of Dundalk’s Champions League qualifiers as they became the first Irish side to reach the play-off round in 2016, his performances drawing comparisons to Damien Duff and Philippe Coutinho and attracting the attention of the likes of Newcastle United, Aston Villa and Preston.

Villa’s interest was never firm, while Rafael Benitez told him he’d be no more than a squad player with the Magpies, Horgan opting for Preston only to find manager Simon Grayson leaving for Sunderland six months later.

Grayson’s successor Alex Neil allowed him to move to Hibs, where Horgan has faced further upheaval after Neil Lennon was replaced by Paul Heckingbottom who, in turn, was sacked, leaving him fighting to force his way into new head coach Jack Ross’ midfield diamond formation.

Six Republic of Ireland caps also came Horgan’s way, all won under former boss Martin O’Neill, the last of which came in 2017 as he found himself overlooked by Mick McCarthy for the Euro 2020 qualifying campaign.

“One of the biggest issues is that I’m too hard on myself in my career,” Horgan told Irish website the42. “I still don’t deal with it very well. I beat myself up constantly. I have no idea why.

“I think I just expect perfection, but it’s nigh on impossible to do it. It’s something I’ve been trying to work on. I’m not good at letting things go. I dwell on results and performances. It’s one of the things that’s affected me most throughout my career.

“I see younger lads beat themselves up over nothing and I can tell them to stop it, to calm down and relax. Then I do it to myself two seconds later, I’ll over-hit a cross and in my head I’m screaming at myself. I know that I’ve just been able to tell a young lad not to worry, but I can’t do it myself.

“I’ve spoken to someone about it and it is something I need to work on. It’s self-inflicted stuff. It’s not me thinking about what other people expect, it’s what I expect of myself and the crazy thing is it’s actually got worse the older I’ve got.

“I will go to bed and stare at the wall thinking of the two crosses I have over-hit. It’s mental and it shouldn’t be like that.”

Ostracised he may be from the international set-up at the moment, but Horgan hasn’t given up hope. Stephen Kenny - his Dundalk mentor - will move up to the senior Ireland position from the Under-21s next year and Horgan has been in touch with him recently - but is taking nothing for granted.

He said: “I don’t think for a second Stephen Kenny will come back and pick me just because I played well for him a few years ago. Do I feel I can get to that level again? Yes, but I need to be doing more, doing better, scoring more and more assists, that’s what gets you into the frame.”