Left sided defender Damien Delaney was new manager Peter Taylor’s first signing when he took over the Tigers’ hotseat in October 2002, the two having worked together at their previous club Leicester City. It was somewhat odd that the tag of “the manager’s favourite” dogged Delaney in his early months at the club while he adjusted to the hurly burly of football in the fourth tier of the English game – that’s football fans for you! Damien began his time in Taylor’s side playing at left back, a position where he was able to show his obvious defensive talents but which at times ill-suited him when up against nippy wingers. He nevertheless persisted and scored his first City goal in a November 2002 1-0 win over Boston United, a looping cross-shot from a defensive clearance that was the last Tigers goal scored at Boothferry Park. As the season wore on Delaney was occasionally played at centre half and in midfield, where he appeared to look more comfortable, by the end of the 2002/03 season he had missed only four fixtures in all competitions.
The 2003/04 season saw the Tigers dominate their League Division 3 opponents for much of the season, powering to a first promotion in 17 years won at faraway Yeovil. After starting the season at left back the signing of Andy Dawson in September 2003 released Damien to play as left sided centre half in a defence that became increasingly frugal as the season wore on – Delaney thrived and made himself one of the Tigers most important players. He chipped in with goals too – a long distance buccaneering run through the the Rochdale defence in March 2004 ended with a thunderous 25 yard shot rifled into the top corner, a strike that sealed an important 1-0 victory as promotion started appearing on the horizon. He also scored in the final game of the season, a celebratory afternoon at the KC Stadium seven days after promotion was sealed at Yeovil, which saw Bristol Rovers beaten 3-1. Delaney negotiated the rise to the third tier with aplomb, securing his position at centre half alongside new signing Leon Cort and keeping things tight at the back for a second promotion charge in two seasons. Moving in the Championship for the 2005/06 season, Delaney again stepped up his game and played in every game – mostly at centre back but nine times at left back when both Andy Dawson and Roland Edge were unavailable.
At the start of the 2006/07 season Taylor was gone, Phil Parkinson took over the City reins and Delaney was absent for two months in September and October, the first extended lay-off of his time at Hull City. As Parkinson struggled to inspire results in his new team, Delaney was bought back into the fold in a variety of defensive and midfield positions. When Parkinson was replaced by Phil Brown in December 2006, Delaney was restored to centre half and he kept his place for the rest of the season as Brown eased the Tigers away from relegation in the closing fortnight of the season, consigning Leeds United to League One at the same time. At the start of the 2007/08 season Brown paired Wayne Brown and Michael Turner in the centre of his defence and Damien was again playing at left back. This came to an end in December 2007 when Andy Dawson was restored to the first team and Delaney was, for only the second time in his City career, left out of the first eleven. With his undoubted talents undiminished, it was perhaps inevitable that when the transfer window opened in January 2008 Delaney was the subject of interest from several clubs and he left for QPR in mid-January. The Tigers won promotion to the Premier League at the end of that season, and it is regretable that Delaney wasn’t added to the list of Tigers players who played in all four divisions during the club’s rapid rise in the 2000s – he deserved it.
Damien Finbarr Delaney was born in Cork and was a highly promising Gaelic footballer in his teenage years, as well as a fine association footballer. He played for Munster in the minor all-Ireland gaelic football tournament in 1999 but later that year he committed to football and signed for Cork City. Within a year his performance were attracting attention within the English game as he captained the Cork youth team to victory in the Irish FA Youth Cup Final. In July 2000 he signed for Premier League side Leicester City, who were managed by Peter Taylor. Delaney made his Foxes debut in a January 2001 FA Cup tie against York City and ended his first season in England with seven senior appearances under his belt. Damien spent much of the 2001/02 season on loan to gain further experience – he spent three winter months at League Division 1 side Stockport County, making 12 appearances and scoring his first senior goal in February 2002 against Rotherham United, then had a shorter end of season loan spell at Huddersfield Town that yielded only two appearances. In March 2002, between the two loan spells, he started two Premier League games for Leicester, adding to two appearances he made the previous autumn. Damien was out of favour at Leicester at the start of the 2002/03 season and had made seven appearances for Mansfield Town during a month’s loan before joining the Tigers in October 2002 – in total, Delaney made 11 appearances for Leicester City.
Damien joined Hull City’s Championship rivals Queens Park Rangers in January 2008 and for a season and a half he was a regular starter, making 59 appearances and scoring three goals. In July 2009 he transferred to Championship side Ipswich Town for an initial fee of £750,000, where he played mostly at centre half for three seasons and made 106 appearances, scoring three goals. He suffered a serious injury that required emergency surgery in early 2012 that could have ended his career and at the start of the 2012/13 season his contract at Ipswich Town was terminated by mutual consent.
By the end of August 2012, after considering a move to the United States, he signed a three month deal to join Championship side Crystal Palace that kickstarted a six year spell at Selhurst Park. He became a lynchpin of the Eagles’ defence as they won promotion to Premier League via the play-offs at the end of the 2012/13 season, with Delaney returning to the top flight five years after he missed achieving that feat at Hull City (he played eight times in the Premier League at Leicester, before he joined Hull City). For four seasons he remained a key part of the Palace defence as they compiled a string of mid-table Premier League finishes and reached the 2015/16 FA Cup Final – Delaney started the Wembley final against Manchester United but the Red Devils won 2-1 in extra time. By the 2017/18 season Delaney was a more peripheral figure and he left Crystal Palace in July 2018 having made 193 senior appearances for the Eagles and scored seven goals.
In July 2018 he returned to Ireland and signed for his first club Cork City, but after 14 appearances in six months that including playing in both the Champions League (against Legia Warsaw) and the Europa League (against Rosenborg) he moved to Irish League rivals Waterford in January 2019. He made 20 appearances for Waterford in the 2019 season before hanging up his boots in July 2019 at the age of 38.
In May 2008, shortly after his move from Hull City to QPR, Delaney won his first international cap for Ireland against Serbia. He won nine caps for Ireland in total, the last of which came in May 2014 against Turkey.
Date/Place of Birth: 20 July 1981, Cork
Hull City First Game: 19 October 2002, Torquay United A (League Division 3), 21 years, 91 days old
Hull City Final Game: 12 January 2008, West Bromwich Albion H (Championship), 26 years, 176 days old
Cork City (1999-2000), Leicester City (2000-2002), Stockport County (2001-2002, loan), Huddersfield Town (2002, loan), Mansfield Town (2002, loan), Hull City (2002-2008), Queens Park Rangers (2008-2009), Ipswich Town (20091-2012), Crystal Palace (2012-2018), Cork City (2018-2019), Waterford (2019)
Hull City Record
Career: 239 apps, 5 goalsDamien Delaney
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|2003/04||46 (0)||2||1 (0)||0||1 (0)||0||-||-||-||-|
|2004/05||43 (0)||1||3 (0)||0||1 (0)||0||-||-||-||-|
|2005/06||45 (1)||0||1 (0)||0||1 (0)||0||-||-||-||-|
|2006/07||36 (1)||1||1 (0)||0||1 (0)||0||-||-||-||-|
|2007/08||20 (2)||0||1 (0)||0||3 (0)||0||-||-||-||-|