If there was any one player who symbolised the never-say-die spirit that inspired Portlaoise to become one of the country’s top GAA Clubs in the 1960s and early ‘70s is has to be Pascal Delaney, know to friend and foe alike as “The Red Lad”. He was a man of powerful strength, unfathomable talent and fearless disposition who inspired all those around him to greater effort and giving all to the cause. Equally talented with the big ball or the sliothar, Pascal, became a legend in his own lifetime throughout the county and much further afield as a fearless warrior and was respected by one and all for his high standard of sportsmanship which matched his wonderful talents as a player.
Winning numerous under age and minor championships with the Town, he was playing at senior level in both codes as a teenager. Indeed he was but seventeen years old when he played with the Town in the senior hurling final of 1960 which his team unluckily lost by the narrowest of margins.
He was one of the main driving forces in the upsurge of the club’s football fortunes in the 1960s. But by an unfortunate twist of fate he missed the county final of 1964 when the Town won its first senior title in the modern era. He had been red-carded, quite harshly, in the first-ever All-Ireland Under 21 final at Croke Park on the previous Sunday against Kerry. In the circumstances the Portlaoise players were reluctant to line out on the following Sunday without their talisman, but he insisted that they should play, and although not there himself in person, he was generally recognised as the inspiration behind the historic victory which launched countless famous victories in the following years and decades.
Pascal played in five further winning finals and was a key player in the club securing its first Leinster title against Athlone in 1972. That team went on to play Derry champions, Bellaghy, in Magherafelt at the peak of the Northern troubles and Pascal, like his team-mates was bitterly disappointed when the game swung against them into injury time. A coveted All-Ireland club title had eluded him.
He gave sterling service to the county in both codes but sometimes his talents and ability as a playmaker were never fully recognised or utilised by county mentors. Quick-thinking and spontaneous, he would thread deliveries to score-taking teammates with precision that often left opposing defences in threads. Though more prominent as a footballer he had all the skills of a first-class hurler and he was never lacking in his efforts with the club hurling side that failed to win the title in his time but were rarely far short of the best during those years. He loved all sports and had a particular love for greyhounds. He enjoyed considerable success with dogs he bred and trained and was well-known in the world of greyhound racing.
-humoured and modest to a fault, Pascal, was deeply loved and admired by all and deservedly his memory was perpetuated when the club centre at Fr. Browne Avenue was named in his honour after his untimely passing in 1986.