JJ Delaney is the latest in a growing list of Kilkenny men to call time on his inter-county career, the man from Fenians who boasts nine All-Ireland medals has been one of the greatest backs of recent times and his retirement will be a source of sorrow for the Kilkenny supporters.
This now brings the number of retirees from Kilkenny this summer to five, Tommy Walsh, Brian Hogan, Aidan Fogarty and David Herity had also hung up their boots after another All Ireland winning summer under Brian Cody.
Theses resignations are almost like an end of an era for this Kilkenny side, Brian Hogan, JJ Delaney and Tommy Walsh particularly have been integral parts of these teams for such a long time and moving forward without them will be no easy task for Cody.
JJ Delaney and Brian Hogan were still main players in the Kilkenny team this summer that won the All-Ireland, as full-back and centre-back they provided the spine of the team and trying to replace them will be difficult. Undoubtedly there are plenty of players capable of stepping in but whether or not they can be as effective as those two is hard to know.
Tommy Walsh was one of the best players to ever put on the black and amber striped jersey but had, in the past two campaigns, fallen from the starting 15 so him retiring will not have as big a bearing as it could have, similarly Fogarty and Herity were on the fringes of the side and there absence will not be too important.
The next player to retire from the Kilkenny side, you would expect, will be Henry Shefflin, after his wonderful record breaking career he will more than likely be calling it a day in the near future.
As previously mentioned, this overturn of players is like the end of an era and for Kilkenny’s rivals such as Tipperary, Cork and Clare a much welcomed end of an era. With such big names retiring all the challengers will feel that Kilkenny will be a waning force next summer and the All-Ireland will be there for the taking.
Whether this is the case or not is hard to know, even with all the retirees Kilkenny have a very strong panel with Richie Hogan at the peak of his career and the likes of Cillian Buckley really coming into his own in a Kilkenny jersey.
Next summer could be a huge test for Brian Cody and his side but being such an experienced man you can expect it won’t faze him in the slightest.
photo credit: Florian Christoph via photopin cc