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Dublin: 19 °C Wednesday 22 August, 2018
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One of Cork City's 2017 heroes impresses in debut in England

Ryan Delaney started against Millwall as Rochdale defied their league form in the FA Cup on Saturday.

Ryan Delaney and Alan Bennett celebrate winning the league with supporters Ryan Delaney celebrating with Alan Bennett after Cork City were crowned 2017 Premier Division champions. Source: Morgan Treacy/INPHO

EIGHTEEN MONTHS SINCE he left the League of Ireland for a cross-channel move, Ryan Delaney finally made his debut in English football over the weekend.

Having joined Rochdale from Championship outfit Burton Albion on a two-and-a-half-year deal earlier this month, Delaney started for his new club on Saturday as they came close to pulling off an FA Cup upset at the expense of Millwall.

Despite failing to win a League One game since 25 November, Rochdale were 2-1 up against their Championship opponents at The Den heading into the 90th minute. However, Ben Thompson struck in the final seconds of normal time to secure a draw for Millwall, who sit 31 places above Rochdale in the current standings in the English Football League.

Rochdale will need to make the most of their second bite at the cherry if they’re to progress to the last 16 of the FA Cup. The replay will take place at their Crown Oil Arena home ground on 6 February, when Delaney will again hope to be involved.

Starting on the left side of a back three, he played all 90 minutes on Saturday. It represented a long-awaited first taste of English football for the 21-year-old, who was unable to make a breakthrough under Nigel Clough during a brief spell at Burton, who he joined from hometown club Wexford in July 2016.

In fact, Delaney spent the entirety of 2017 on loan at Cork City. In 49 appearances, he helped the Leesiders to win the SSE Airtricity League Premier Division, the FAI Cup, the President’s Cup and the Munster Senior Cup. He was also capped by the Republic of Ireland at U21 level while at Cork City, and was named in the PFAI team of the year.

“We know what type of player Ryan is going to be for us,” Rochdale manager Keith Hill told the club’s official website following Saturday’s draw with Millwall. “We thought it was the right opportunity to play him and he didn’t let us down.

“He’s a warrior and a defender, and his temperament is superb. He’s a great player for the right here, right now and for the future of this football club. He’s played against a Championship side today who have very, very good strikers and I think he’s done well.”

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Paul Dollery

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