'Have no fears about Kilkenny' - Delaney
Published 06/05/2015 | 02:30
JJ Delaney hasn't a moment of regret about his decision to retire from inter-county hurling last year.
Delaney was the only member of Kilkenny's All-Ireland final starting team to quit and admitted the decision was pre-planned in advance of last season.
"I made my decision this time last year and it made me enjoy the whole year because I didn't take any game for granted.
"I knew coming into every championship game that this could be my last with Kilkenny so I took the whole thing in," he said.
"Before you're probably letting the games go by and not really soaking it in whereas I knew it was my last year. That in itself ensured it was the most enjoyable year of my life.
"Winning the All-Ireland with an All-Star on top of it was icing on the cake for myself."
Delaney says players in Kilkenny are stepping up "unknown" to themselves in recent seasons.
"I've seen over the past two or three years inside the Kilkenny dressing-room, there are lads stepping up to the mark, taking leadership roles, the likes of TJ Reid and Richie Hogan and they didn't realise it.
"So when we're gone, there are good people stepping into our shoes and hoping to do better than we did. Have no fear this year about Kilkenny," he warned.
Delaney believes in-house training matches will determine who replaces him as full-back.
Brian Cody has only ever used four championship full-backs in his time as manager and Delaney predicts long service for whoever is next.
"For the in-house training games they'll have Paul Murphy at one end and Joey Holden at the other and it's between the two of them. Whoever is going to be full-back, the other will be in the corner anyway," he predicted.
"It's a learning curve but whoever does settle down and get it will have it for four or five years," he said.
Delaney makes Tipperary favourites for the All-Ireland title but has been taken by Waterford's rapid progress.
"They're the form team. They got used to winning games. That's huge for Waterford's mentality. They have experience but a lot of youth coming through as well."