Delaney expects Joey Holden to make Kilkenny full back berth his own

Legendary defender says Wexford’s Ciarán McDonald one of best full forwards around

Pundit JJ Delaney will be analysing the Leinster SHC match between Galway and Laois live on Sky Sports this Saturday.   Photograph:  Cathal Noonan/Inpho

Pundit JJ Delaney will be analysing the Leinster SHC match between Galway and Laois live on Sky Sports this Saturday. Photograph: Cathal Noonan/Inpho

 

Of course Brian Cody drives it all, reinventing his team more in the last two seasons than any time during his 16-year reign. But there’s also that unquantifiable spirit which exists around training in Nowlan Park.

First night, first session with the Kilkenny senior hurling panel JJ Delaney was approached by elder wing back Peter Barry. “He used to say: ‘You are only holding onto the Kilkenny jersey for a period of time. You are trying to give it back in a better state that what you got it in.’”

That was 2001. Delaney did just that, shifting from the wing to a gloriously last few seasons at full back, culminating in a brilliant final season that was rewarded with a ninth Celtic Cross and eighth All Star.

Then he gave back the number three jersey, switching into the Sky Sports studio, starting with Galway versus Laois on Saturday evening (he still plays for Fenians).

Dangerous visit

Joey Holden will be the man who fills Delaney’s boots this summer, starting with the dangerous visit of Wexford sharpshooter Ciarán McDonald to Nowlan Park on Sunday.

“It will be a litmus test straight away, he (Ciarán) is one of the top three full forwards in the country. Whoever is going to start full back will be there for the next three or four years. When I went in there I had six or eight months grace to get to know the position as it’s not like any other position because you have to hold back a small bit, you can’t go bald-headed for every ball because you are the last line of defence. If someone turns you it’s a goal.”

But he believes his successor is primed and ready.

“I think Joey will start full back because Paul (Murphy) hits a mountain of ball in the corner. He’s a specialised corner back and has that position nailed down for the last four or five years. Joey is flying it with the club, was man of the match in the club All-Ireland.

“I see Joey slotting in there, can’t see him missing a beat to be honest with you.”

Ever get a roasting during that six to eight month bedding in period?

“Every night in training. You would be up against the best forwards in the country. It’s a match situation. Sink or swim.”

Discipline was the cornerstone on which they built the ethos he speaks of. It came to light this week that Wexford manager Liam Dunne has dropped Jack Guiney, one of the leading under-21 players from last season, due to a breach in disciplinary procedures set by the panel.

“You would be disappointed but if I was on the Wexford panel and he done that I probably wouldn’t want him on the panel to be honest, wouldn’t want him on the team. He made a choice what he wanted to do.” Very simple.

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