DESPITE not reaching the levels that many thought he would on his return to the League of Ireland, former Premier League and Republic of Ireland international player Damien Delaney does not regret his decision to play for Cork City in 2018.
Delaney had initially begun his career with City before leaving the club in 2000 before going onto having a very successful career in England, with the likes of Leicester City, Ipswich Town and Crystal Palace.
He returned to Ireland at the age of 36, and although he was a keen observer of the league from abroad, he was shocked by some of the aspects of playing in the league, highlighting one game in particular, when City played away to Finn Harps, as a game that made him question his decision to return to the league.
Speaking on Virgin Media’s ‘’ Delaney said:
“I don’t regret it. I loved it. It was always on my goal list. Friday nights in hotels I was always watching League of Ireland games.
“I loved it. It was just something I wanted to do. Unfortunately, I was just spent, I suppose. I wasn’t trying to disrespect the league, thinking ‘I’ll come home to a lower level’. I just thought I could help out in some way.
”The funny story for me is, when I was with Cork City we were playing Finn Harps away.
"We were coming home after a night game and we had stopped somewhere to eat. We were coming back down through Galway, Claire, Limerick, and we just got to Limerick, and the bus pulled into a layby, and the engine got switched-off, and I was kind of lying down on a two-seater, and I kind of popped my head up thinking, ‘where are we’.
"And the lads said, ‘oh the driver’s tacho (tachograph). I think it was half four in the morning and we were outside Limerick in a layby for 45 minutes.
"I got back to Cork at 7am. I just thought to myself ‘You’re 36, 37 years of age, the football’s not amazing.’
"Again, I understood where the League of Ireland was at. But I was just like, ‘I haven’t got the heart or the stomach for that sort of thing anymore'.
"But even knowing what I know now, I’d still do it.”
During his 18-year playing career in England, Delaney spent three seasons at Ipswich Town, where he worked under his fellow Corkman Roy Keane for 18 months.
Although the former Palace players didn’t have the best connection with Keane at the time, he highlighted that he always played under his former manager despite their indifferent relationship.
“It was a difficult time but he always picked me every week which, by the way, he didn't with a lot of people.
"All you want to do in football is play and as long as the manager is picking you you'll put up with anything and I learned to deal with him at half time and at full time on a Monday morning and I just kind of switched off and I just thought he keeps picking you so stop complaining.
"There are other people training with the reserves and there are other people that aren't so I rationalised it in my head that way and that overrides everything.
"It was okay, I was big enough to deal with it and tried to not let it affect me, of course, it does to an extent but you do your best not to.
"It's not an environment where you could flourish, you were battling and that was a difficult 18 months "