WHILE Cork City face a tough task in trying to get a result in Poland next Tuesday, Damien Delaney has no doubts about their ability to do so.
A 79th-minute winner from Michal Kucharczyk gave Legia Warsaw victory at Turrner’s Cross on Tuesday night, but Delaney – playing his first competitive game for City in 18 years – felt that the league champions showed enough to suggest they can trouble their more illustrious opponents.
“Yeah, without question,” he says.
“Half the battle for us is convincing ourselves that we’re a good team.
“I said beforehand that, as far as I was concerned, it was a level playing field – somebody decided that Legia Warsaw come into the Champions League at this stage and somebody decided that Cork City come in at this stage.
“We didn’t get lucky or anything like that, we deserve to be there for what the lads did last year.
“I thought we came out of the blocks very well and did everything that was expected of us, except put the ball in the net.”
City had chances to score when the game was scoreless, and while they weren’t taken, otherwise Delaney felt the performance was close to perfect.
“I’m extremely proud of the lads,” he says, “extremely proud of the way they were able to execute the gameplan the way they were asked to.
“We did everything that was asked of us, it was just fine margins, unfortunately. We had a couple of chances and there wasn’t a lot we could do about the goal – they sent all the big lads up and then went square, you can’t legislate for things like that.
“It wasn’t just a case of sitting in, I thought we played quite well.
“We won the ball back high up the pitch and we got passes off and created chances. I’ve nothing but pride and it was a case of keeping the tie alive for the second leg.”
The former Crystal Palace man was playing in the Champions League for the first time, but merely competing wasn’t the objective.
“I was never one that was just happy playing in games,” he says, “I wanted to win.
“When we got in the positions we got in, I just felt we should have capitalised a little bit more. It was unfortunate.
“For me, Tuesday wasn’t just about ticking a bit of playing in the Champions League, it was about winning in the Champions League. That will most certainly be my attitude when we go out there next week.”
In terms of his own performance, Delaney felt that he needed a while to get into the game, having not played competitively since the end of the 2017-18 season for Palace.
“Probably the start of the game was the worst part for me!” he laughs.
“Playing competitive football again after being off for the summer, I’ve said before that you can train as much as you want and play friendlies like I did against Portsmouth, but the real thing is different.
“I was a little bit shaky and just trying to find my feet but I gained more confidence as the game went on.”