Wednesday 13 December 2017

Delaney: I never looked for any guarantee

Ireland need to build 'identity and team ethos'

Eyebrows were raised yesterday after Delaney was omitted from the Irish squad for the Gibraltar and Georgia qualifiers in September
Eyebrows were raised yesterday after Delaney was omitted from the Irish squad for the Gibraltar and Georgia qualifiers in September

Damien Delaney has forcefully rejected any suggestion that he sought a guarantee from Martin O’Neill that he would be a first choice starter for Ireland.

The Crystal Palace defender has also offered strong views on the direction Ireland’s senior team is taking and revealed that he did have a disagreement with O’Neill.

 Posting on Instagram, Delaney was reacting to comments made by O’Neill at his midweek squad announce ment and apparently, to speculation about his relationship with Roy Keane.

Three months ago, Palace assistant boss Keith Millen suggested that Delaney was on the brink of quitting football because of his dealings with Keane.

"I have no issue with Roy Keane and shook his hand this summer at a Cork City European match," said Delaney.

" I just want to clarify my position with regards to the Ireland national team and my omission from the current squad.

"I know that at the age of 34 the future of Irish football does not lie with me, the rigours of premier league football and the 24/7 dedication required takes its toll so I look on the international break as a chance to recover, that said I spoke to Martin O Neill and contrary to his recent comments I never asked for a regular starting position.

"I did however disagree with certain aspects which out of respect to Martin and the national team will remain private.

"Ireland need to plan for the long term even if it means sacrificing one maybe two major tournaments."

The quote from O'Neill which Delaney was responding to, and which appeared in several English media outlets yesterday, doesn't tally with a recording of the press conference.

"I do not think that Damien, from his own viewpoint, would definitely come back to play if he was not guaranteed playing in the side [and] I cannot guarantee anybody a place in the side," he was reported to have said.

A careful review of the tape suggests a more accurate version would be "if he was guaranteed playing in the side" and that O'Neill believed that Delaney would not return EVEN if he was guaranteed a place in the Ireland team.

"I do not think at his age if he wants to be running as just being part of this squad. I cannot guarantee that to almost all the team."

However, the publication of the quote has triggered a response from Delaney which is clearly heart-felt and something he has given considerable thought to.

"We need to build an identity and team ethos from schoolboy football to full international that will last. I understand people weren't enamoured with Mr. Trapattoni but whether you agreed with his philosophy or not you have to respect the man and the results he achieved with his philosophy.

"There are many footballing philosophies and we need to choose one that suits Irish traits and strengths best, similar to what Wales are now achieving or what Mr. Trapattoni achieved in his time in charge. I'll always be an ardent supporter and wish I could of (sic) contributed more. #coybig #identity."

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