J.J. Delaney (born 6 March, 1982 in Johnstown, County Kilkenny) is an Irish sportsperson. He plays hurling with his local club Fenians and has been a member of the Kilkenny senior inter-county team since 2001.
J.J. Delaney was born in Johnstown, County Kilkenny in 1982. He was born into a family that had a strong association with the game of hurling. His father, Shem Delaney, is a retired inter-county hurler with Kilkenny. Two of Delaney’s uncles, Billy Fitzpatrick and Pat Delaney, also had glittering careers with Kilkenny in the 1970s. Delaney was educated at the local primary school before later attending Coláiste Mhuire in Johnstown. Here his hurling skills were first developed and he tasted early success by capturing two under-16 Leinster schools medals. Delaney also captured two Leinster senior schools medals as a member of the Coláiste Mhuire team. He later studied at the Waterford Institute of Technology where he was a key member of the college hurling team. He captured back-to-back Fitzgibbon Cup titles in 2003 and 2004. Delaney currently works as a sales representative with Tegral.
Delaney plays his club hurling with the famous Fenians club in Johnstown. He has enjoyed some success with the club at underage levels, beginning with an under-16 north county club medal. Delaney later won both an under-21 north county club medal and an under-21 county club medal. He has yet to win a senior county title with the Fenians.
Delaney first came to prominence on the inter-county scene as a member of the Kilkenny minor team in the late 1990s. He lined out in his first provincial final in that grade in 1999, however, the game ended in a 0-13 apiece draw with Wexford. Kilkenny won the replay giving Delaney a Leinster minor medal. ‘The Cats’ were later defeated by Galway in the All-Ireland semi-final. After an early exit from the minor championship in 2000 Delaney joined the county under-21 panel. Success was slow in coming in this grade also as Wexford dominated in the early years of the new century. In 2003 Kilkenny defeated Dublin by 0-12 to 1-4 giving Delaney a Leinster title in that grade. He later lined out in the under-21 championship decider with Galway providing the opposition. Kilkenny won that game by 2-13 to 0-12 with Delaney collecting a coveted All-Ireland medal.
In 2001 Delaney joined the Kilkenny senior team for the first time. He made his debut in the provincial championship and later collected his first senior Leinster title as Kilkenny completely overpowered Wexford in the final. After such a huge win ‘the Cats’ were hot favourites to retain their All-Ireland title, however, Delaney’s were outsmarted by Galway in the All-Ireland semi-final.
‘The Cats’ bounced back in 2002 with Delaney claiming a first National Hurling League medal. He subsequently claimed a second Leinster title before later lining out in his first senior All-Ireland final. Clare, who were defeated in the first-round of the Munster championship but had made it to the final via the newly introduced qualifier system, put up a good fight in that game. A combined tally of 2-13 for both Henry Shefflin and D.J. Carey gave Kilkenny a seven-point victory and secured a first senior All-Ireland title for Delaney.
In 2003 Delaney captured a second National League title before later winning a third consecutive Leinster medal. Kilkenny later faced Cork in an exciting and close All-Ireland final. The Leinstermen never led by more than four-points and only secured victory with a late Martin Comerford goal. Delaney won his second All-Ireland medal that day and he was later honoured with an All-Star award.
In 2004 Kilkenny were aiming for an unprecedented third All-Ireland victory in-a-row, however, the team was now under severe pressure from all quarters. For the first time in seven years Kilkenny failed in their bid to become Leinster champions as a last-gasp Wexford goal ended an almost unprecedented run of success in the provincial championship. Kilkenny took the scenic route via the scenic route via the qualifiers system; however, after a scare against Clare they still reached the All-Ireland final. Once again Cork provided the opposition on a gloomy and overcast day. The sides were level for much of the game; however, in the final twenty minutes Cork scored nine points without reply and secured the victory. Kilkenny ended the year with no silverware, however, Delaney was presented with a second All-Star award.
Kilkenny were back in form in 2005 with Delaney adding a third National League medal to his ever-growing collection. He later collected a fourth Leinster title as ‘the Cats’ had a narrow win over reigning provincial champions Wexford. While a third successive All-Ireland showdown with Cork seemed extremely likely, Galway defeated Kilkenny in the All-Ireland semi-final in one of the most exciting games of the decade.
In 2006 Delaney captured a fourth National League medal. He later won a fifth Leinster title following another victory over Wexford. The subsequent All-Ireland final saw Kilkenny take on Cork in the game that was billed as the game that would decide the team of the decade. Cork were playing in their fourth consecutive final and were going for a third title in-a-row while Kilkenny wanted to gain revenge for the defeat in 2004. In the build up to the game Delaney injured his cruciate ligament while training with the inter-county hurlers. It was an injury which forced him to miss the All-Ireland final which Kilkenny went on to win. In spite of missing the game Delany’s prowess earned him a third All-Star award.
Initial concerns, however, that he would be absent for most of 2007 proved unfounded, as surgery revealed that 75% of the ligament remained undamaged and in tact. He returned to full training early in January and made his return to the Kilkenny side during the National League campaign. After losing the league final the team moved on undeterred and Delaney collected a sixth Leinster medal following another facile victory in the provincial decider. After a minor scare against Galway Kilkenny later qualified for the All-Ireland final where, surprisingly, Limerick provided the opposition. Kilkenny got off to a flying start with Eddie Brennan and Henry Shefflin scoring two goals within the first ten minutes. Unfortunately, Shefflin sustained an injury during the game and had to retire at half-time. In spite of losing their captain and star player Kilkenny still went on to win the game by 2-19 to 1-15. It was Delaney’s third All-Ireland medal on the field of play.
2008 saw Kilkenny launch an all-out attack in an attempt to capture a third All-Ireland title in-a-row. The team had an easy passage through the Leinster Championship, however, the opening half of the provincial final against Wexford gave ‘the Cats’ another minor scare. In the end Delaney collected his seventh Leinster medal after a 5-21 to 0-17 victory. This victory allowed Kilkenny to advance directly to the All-Ireland semi-final where arch-rivals Cork were the opponents. The game was an interesting encounter; however, Kilkenny claimed a 1-23 to 0-17 victory. The subsequent All-Ireland final saw Kilkenny take on Waterford. It was their first meeting in the championship decider since 1963. A classic game of hurling was expected by many, however, Kilkenny started stronger. Two goals by Eddie Brennan after twenty minutes effectively killed the game, however, ‘the Cats’ ploughed on to record an enormous 3-30 to 1-13 victory over their rivals. Delaney thus collected his fifth All-Ireland medal, his fourth on the field of play.