Damien Delaney said the lure of Europe and Champions League football helped seal the deal as he made the move from England’s Premier League back to his hometown club Cork City.
The former Ireland international has rejoined City after 18 years in England.
Delaney was a cult hero at Crystal Palace over the past six seasons, clocking up 170 appearances for the Eagles, but slipped down the pecking order under Roy Hodgson behind Mamadou Sakho and James Tomkins.
The 36-year-old yesterday sealed a deal at Turner’s Cross until the end of the 2019 season.
“I am really excited by what Cork City are doing and the direction the club is going in,” he told the club’s website yesterday. “Speaking to John, he is obviously very enthusiastic, I know he does things the right way and is driving forward, so that is something I want to be part of.
“Playing in Europe was part of the draw for me. It will be nice to play Champions League football. I am looking forward to running out at Turner’s Cross again; it has been a long, long time.”
City boss John Caulfield is a former team-mate of Delaney. “Damien broke into the first team as I was coming to the end of my playing career. He has finished his time in England playing with Palace in the Premier League, so to get a player of that quality coming home, a Cork lad, he will have a massive input.”
City’s trip to Sligo this evening (7.45pm) comes too early for Delaney, who will join up with the squad for training next week, and will be eligible to play from July 1.
One man relishing tonight’s battle will be Graham Cummins, back on a scoring streak and having bagged a hat-trick on his previous visit to the Showgrounds. Cummins has started every game for City this season except one missed through suspension, and admits the schedule is testing.
“I’ve never had a schedule like it where it’s just constant games and your body just picks up next week, but every team is in the same situation,” says the striker, who has 11 league goals in 20 games.
Sligo boss Gerard Lyttle sees his side come into the game on the back of a 2-0 win over Derry City and three clean sheets on the bounce. But he does have bad news on the injury front, with defender Gary Boylan ruled out for the season with an anterior cruciate ligament injury, while striker Adam Morgan remains out.
Meanwhile, Preston-bound Irish international Graham Burke will be available for Shamrock Rovers tonight as they host bottom side Bray at Tallaght (7pm). Rovers will be determined to bounce back from the damaging 5-2 defeat to Dundalk last weekend, when Burke was unavailable due to Ireland commitments.
Rovers boss Stephen Bradley said no deal is complete for a move to Deepdale. “Graham has just been his usual self, doing what got him into the Ireland squad in the first place. He obviously makes us a better team.”
Ronan Finn (head) and Dan Carr (hamstring) are doubts for Rovers.
In the First Division, Cobh Ramblers host Wexford at St Colman’s Park 7.45pm. Stephen Henderson’s EA Sports Cup semi-finalists will see this as a huge opportunity to pick up their second home league win of a disappointing campaign.
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