Brian Cody hails departing stars as JJ Delaney was simply ‘the best’

Brian Cody paid a glowing tribute to his retired players yesterday, saying JJ Delaney was the “best defender I have ever seen”. 

Brian Cody hails departing stars as JJ Delaney was simply ‘the best’

Cody admitted to some surprise at the defender’s decision but said he didn’t try to talk him out of retirement.

“I was surprised, yeah, a bit, but not massively either. You never know what players will decide. To the very last ball that he pucked, he just was on top of his game and that’s the way he decided it (would end).

“I never reason with them because they have reasoned it out in their own heads. It’s a players absolute right to be able to make that decision and I could never try and influence them.

“I would always say to players, ‘look, it is your decision and if that’s exactly what you want ....... ’ I wouldn’t try and change their minds because they have obviously agonised over that decision.

“I think everybody feels there is more in JJ. But again that is only for JJ to decide, and JJ has decided that there is more in him from a club hurling point of view and is going to continue to play hurling.

“He was injured for the 2006 All-Ireland final, just a short time before the final, and I said at the time that I had never seen a better defender. And I haven’t seen anything to change my mind since.”

Cody admitted he would be hard to replace at full-back: “It’s hard to replace JJ Delaney anyway, that’s for sure. It’s obviously a hugely important position and the role of the full-back is evolving and changing as we go along and you can play the role in different ways.

"JJ’s instinct for defending was complete. As a wing-back he was massive, there was never a question he could play full-back: we just knew he could play full-back at a massive level.”

Tommy Walsh, another departed player, was described by Cody as epitomising the game of hurling.

“Of course I could talk about Tommy and have said many times before that, to me, Tommy was the game of hurling and nobody epitomises it to me more than Tommy Walsh ever did, just outstanding in every aspect.

“He was everything. Brian Hogan gave massive service as a centre-back and was the top centre-back in the game for a number of years definitely.

"There was outstanding service from Aidan Fogarty for many years and was man of the match in the 2006 All-Ireland final, gave great service and his work-rate around the field at all times, gave terrific service and David Herity as a goalkeeper as well gave terrific service.”

The Cats boss said there was “no question mark” about Henry Shefflin’s future: “Henry will decide. Henry is on record saying that, obviously it is a much asked question, but not a question I am going to answer or can answer. Henry has a complete focus, as he proved last weekend, on St Patrick’s Day.”

As for himself, Cody said he was not “looking for a perfect time to bow out”.

“If that was in my head or my motivation, I probably had opport-unities a few times to do that. I’m not looking for the perfect time to go out because we won this or that. That’s not what I’m doing at all.”

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