Thursday 9 February 2023 Dublin: 2°C
Cathal Noonan/INPHO Delaney celebrates scoring against Shamrock Rovers.
# Decision time
On-loan Cork defender's agent Stephen Hunt would be happy to see him extend stay on Leeside
‘If he goes back to Burton he fights for his place, if he stays at Cork he’s playing at a good level’ says the former Ireland international.

STEPHEN HUNT HAS been keeping a closer eye than most on Ryan Delaney’s progress at Cork City this season.

The 20-year-old defender joined the Leesiders on a six-month loan from Championship club Burton Albion in January in order to gain some first-team experience.

With Kenny Browne making a shock departure to link up with hometown club Waterford just before the campaign kicked off, the centre-half has slotted in remarkably well.

John Caufield’s side have stormed to a commanding lead at the top of the Premier Division thanks to 15 wins and one draw — conceding just eight goals along the way.

Delaney’s performances have been earning him praise and his agent, former Ireland winger Hunt, is delighted with how the move has panned out.

“I’m pleased for Ryan,” said Hunt. “He has pretty much been a mainstay in the Cork team since he’s come and it was exactly what he needed — to play games — as he didn’t get any game time at Burton.

“There wasn’t any reserve games [at Burton] so nobody really noticed him playing. There were only two or three games in the three or four months for him to come in and do well, like he has done [with Cork].

“He’s scored five goals in 15 games I think, and that’s a credit to him. He’s only 20, he’s still young and there is a bit of development left in him yet. Hopefully he can keep going in the right way.”

With the loan spell due to end this month, Cork are hoping to extend his stay — either short-term or on a more permanent basis. Caulfield confirmed recently that talks have begun with Burton boss Nigel Clough, but Delaney’s future remains up in the air.

I can advise the player and we’ve had a conversation about it,” added Hunt. “I can’t tell you right now but we’ll have to go from there with it. He has got a game on Friday in Dundalk, which is I think his last game in the loan spell.

“It’s a big game and we’ll hopefully let him concentrate on that and see where to go after that.”

Hunt, who first spotted the young defender while training with Wexford Youths, believes either outcome will be good for his development.

“I was training with Wexford Youths and I sat on Ryan for four or five months,” he recalls. “I signed him to my old agent at the time, who I said to look after him at the time. I knew when was best for him to go across.

“He trained with Mick McCarthy for a week and I asked the gaffer what he thought. He said ‘listen, if I didn’t have a full capacity of centre-backs I’d probably sign him’.

“So then I had his confidence as well as my own eye. Either way, he’s in a good position. If he goes back to Burton he fights for his place, if he stays at Cork he’s playing games at a good level.”

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Sean St. Ledger and Stephen Hunt Bryan Keane / INPHO Stephen Hunt (right) was speaking at the announcement of Benetti as the FAI's official partner. Bryan Keane / INPHO / INPHO

On Delaney’s Cork team-mate Sean Maguire, Hunt feels he wouldn’t have been out of place in Martin O’Neill’s squad that travelled to the US to play Mexico later tonight.

“I didn’t think there would have been any harm – having seen him play up close like that – to bring him for the week and see how he got on,” he says.

“John Caulfield wouldn’t be too happy to hear me saying that as they have a big game this week, so maybe that is partly the reason why he is left behind at a peak time of the season. Cork are flying and Dundalk need to win.”

Stephen Hunt was at the Aviva Stadium this week to launch the FAI’s partnership with Irish menswear brand Benetti as the official tailor 

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