Wexford's Delaney inspired by Doyle in search for success
Ryan Delaney is aiming to follow in the footsteps of his fellow countyman and childhood hero Kevin Doyle by using Cork City as a stepping stone to success.
And the New Ross native has become a stranger to rest in his attempt to achieve it.
The 21-year-old has been on the go since January 2016 after a hectic spell where the high of leaving Wexford Youths to join Burton Albion later that summer was followed by frustration as he struggled to get a look-in with the Championship club.
In need of games, he came back to join Cork City on loan in January - the initial six-month deal was extended in the summer - and the defender made a big contribution to their league title success.
The chance to play at the Aviva Stadium in Sunday's FAI Cup final is another reward for the hard work and Delaney has earned a break in the aftermath.
"I've had three pre-seasons in the past two years," he smiles. "First of all going from Wexford's pre-season (pre-2016) then playing half a year and going to Burton and going into their pre-season and then coming back to Cork and their pre-season.
"It's been hectic, and mentally tough, but you get better for it. I've had no real break barring the mid-season week this year here."
An interesting winter lies ahead for Delaney. This is set to be his last game for Cork City and Burton boss Nigel Clough is due to come and watch the strapping centre half take on Dundalk but other clubs have been taking a closer interest in his campaign.
West Brom like him and QPR and other Championship sides are monitoring his position. Delaney is keen to play first-team games, with his Cork experience giving him a taste for it.
"There's not much I can do," he shrugs. "It's up to me to go back there and show how much I've progressed in the past year.
"I feel the year couldn't have gone much better. I came with my confidence down and knew I had to be mentally tough. And it was important to get out of my comfort zone again and mature into the player I've become."
As a Wexford lad, he grew up with a local role model in the shape of Doyle, although there is a significant age gap and they played in different positions. Doyle went to Good Counsel College, whereas Delaney went to the CBS Secondary New Ross where he is remembered as a 'model student' by school principal Pat Rossiter.
The youngster did get to meet his hero when he came to a function during his early days as a Premier League star. In hurling country, it was good to have a countyman succeeding in his chosen field.
"I remember meeting him at an opening of a school when I was about 10 years old," says Delaney.
"You're starstruck looking at him coming over from playing Premier League. It does help, it drives you that bit more that you know someone from close to you who has achieved so much."
Delaney really enjoyed the experience of European football with Cork, including the contrast of styles when taking on the Cypriot side AEK Larnaca, which ended their Europa League campaign.
He still reckons a packed Turner's Cross is the best ground he's lined out in. That should change on Sunday.