Cork City manager John Caulfield believes the signing of Damien Delaney will help inspire his young players to greater things. Delaney completed his return to the club last Friday afternoon following an 18-year stint in English football, where he pl
Cork City manager John Caulfield believes the signing of Damien Delaney will help inspire his young players to greater things.
Delaney completed his return to the club last Friday afternoon following an 18-year stint in English football, where he played for Leicester City, Hull City and most recently Crystal Palace amongst others.
The Cork native will be eligible to play competitive football for his local club from the first of July – the day after his contract with Palace expires – with his debut likely to come in the clubs friendly with Portsmouth on the second at Turner’s Cross.
And speaking at his official unveiling at the Cork Airport Hotel on Tuesday, his new boss admitted that the defender, who has signed for the club until the end of the 2019 season, will have a positive impact on the club’s youngsters.
“He can show them the professionalism every day,” said Caulfield.
“It’s all about when young players are coming through from different levels, whether it’s junior football or through your underage system, going in every day is part of it.
“It’s work, its unique work being a professional player or being a professional manager. It’s unique because while you have massive responsibilities at the same time it’s a part of your life that you can never get back when you reach a certain age afterwards.
“You can stay in an office for 50 years but you can’t be a professional footballer, your life-span is short and what you need is people who manage themselves right, get the best of themselves and prepare the best way.
“What Damien can offer the young players is how you train every day, the mindset, how you look after yourself off the pitch, all the things that will decide whether you are going to be at a top level or not.
“As I keep saying, there is a top level in Ireland but whether they can go further than that, they should always be challenging themselves to get to the top ability that they have.
“It’s all about the whole package of how you prepare, how you train because ultimately the people that get to the top level, wherever that is, are the people who look after themselves 24/7 and who prepare properly and in modern society that is difficult.
“Young people think it’s just turn up to training, play a match but it is how you look after yourself on and off the pitch that determines where you go in your career and that’s where Damien will have a huge influence.
“In the last two days I can even see with the younger players they’re all mad to talk to him, they all want to be with him around training because they can see the presence he has and the level he’s been at.
“A lot of our young players will hope they can even go a stage higher than Cork City and we will hope that some of them can as well but there’s no guarantees in professional football.”
Delaney follows the likes of Colin Healy and Alan Bennett in leaving English football in order to return to Leeside and Caulfield is hoping the 36-year-old can have a similar impact.
“We have had Colin coming back and Benno but particularly for Damien coming back from a Premier Division club he is in absolutely phenomenal condition,” added Caulfield.
“He has been training with us the last few days but his impact around the ground, around the club, in the dressing room with all the young players coming through is massive and it’s just a fantastic coup for us to have another local fella coming home.”
Cork City have been impressive defensively so far this season, conceding just 14 goals in their 22 games in the Premier Division and keeping 14 clean sheets in the process.
Young centre backs Conor McCarthy and Sean McLoughlin have more than played their part in that run and while Delaney admits he will be happy to help them in any way he can, first he will be fighting them for a starting berth.
“I already kind of joked with McLoughlin today, it is up to him now to retire me. And it is,” said Delaney.
“It is about competition for places and I had it throughout my whole career, especially towards Palace at the end, where you sign big name players and big reputations and stuff like that.
“I am not saying I am either of those things, but you know it is competition. It is up to him now, if he can raise his game now and keep me out of the team, then I will be the first person to shake his hand and hand him his jersey.
“But I am coming in to play and I will be coming in motivated. It will be up to him now to kick it up another level again.
“I have already seen in the first couple of days, he’s a tremendous player. Not just him and as you said earlier, there is five centre-halves there.
“There is two spots, so the top two are going to get it. My mind is most certainly on getting into the top two.
“If those guys can keep me out of the team, then I will be the best cheerleader there is.”