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JJ will go down as one of hurling's greats after surprise retirement decision

ALTHOUGH JJ Delaney followed something of a recent Kilkenny trend this morning by announcing his inter-county retirement and in doing so, became the fifth member of this year's All-Ireland winning panel to do so, his holds the greatest sense of surprise.

Firstly, Delaney is the only one of the now departed quintet to start this year's All-Ireland final replay against Tipperary.

Moreover, he finished the season as the 2014 All Star full-back and was lauded by team-mate Jackie Tyrrell as "the best pound-for-pound defender I've ever played with," for his performance in said replay.

pending

Speaking just last Monday at a promotional event for Sunday's AIB Leinster club SHC final, Colin Fennelly ruled out any more Kilkenny retirements to add to the recent spate, outside of the pending possibility of the biggest one of all; Henry Shefflin.

Asked specifically about Delaney and the other 30-something totem of the Cats defence, Tyrrell, Fennelly replied: "Yeah they're staying on. There's no question over them I don't think.

"JJ's an Allstar and Jackie absolutely loves it."

Yet an announcement made through the Kilkenny county board this morning confirmed otherwise.

In it, Delaney who will be 33 by the time next year's Leinster SHC begins and is thus older than both Tommy Walsh and Aiden Fogarty, though slightly younger than the other retirees, Brian Hogan and David Herity, paid the customary dues.

"I wish to thank Brian Cody and his selectors for allowing me to play hurling at the highest level," it read.

"I also thank the Kilkenny county board for their support on and off the field.

"Thanks to The GPA they been a great help to my development in both my sporting and professional career.

"I thank my club The Fenians, my former teachers and various coaches for instilling in me a love for the greatest field game in the world."

With nine All-Ireland medals, seven All Stars and a Hurler of the Year award, Delaney's legend is beyond doubt though he will, perhaps, always be remembered for the hook on Seamus Callanan in the 18th minute of the All-Ireland SHC final replay this year, a match that proved to be his last in black and amber.

magnificent

"JJ's hook," Brian Cody surmised afterwards, "you could talk about that forever."

"Magnificent piece of defending. To get back and hook who is a natural speed merchant," he added whilst poking fun at the perception that members of his defence had lost pace.

Speaking just moments after the match, in typically self deprecating tones, Delaney spoke about how he had "gotten lucky" with the intervention but seemed even then to have resolved to come back for a crack at a tenth All-Ireland medal.

"You're looking ahead for the next one is all you are doing," he said. "But we'll celebrate this ninth one now."


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