Champagne Football co-author Paul Rowan says he was “flabbergasted” by Michael Healy-Rae’s infamous defence of John Delaney at the Oireachtas Committee for Sport in April of last year.

Delaney, who was the Executive Vice President of the FAI at the time, was appearing before the committee to answer questions about serious allegations of financial mismanagement. However, the Kerry TD instead used his three minutes to praise the embattled administrator, assuring Delaney that he would get “the mother of all welcomes” in Kerry.

“If you’re guilty of anything,” Healy-Rae added, “you’re guilty of trying to help an Association in the best way you saw it at that time.”

Delaney was subsequently forced to resign from the FAI as the allegations against him continued to mount.

Rowan addressed the Kilgarvan politician’s remarks at a virtual launch for Champagne Football, an explosive new book which explores Delaney’s ill-fated 15-year reign at the FAI.

“I was flabbergasted, frankly, by Michael Healy-Rae’s whole performance,” Rowan told launch co-hosts Eoin McDevitt and Ken Early.

“I’ve been living in London so I don’t really know that much about the Healy-Rae family, but they are obviously a colourful bunch of people.

“And John O’Regan (Secretary of the Kerry District League), I was just speaking to him last week and he’s as pro-Delaney as ever. He was pointing out that they wouldn’t have grounds there [in Kerry] if it wasn’t for John. You hear a lot of that.

“So, what do I think about those two gentlemen? John O’Regan is obviously immersed in football. [But] I’m not too sure how much interest Michael Healy-Rae has in football.

“I would say that of all the people I know in Kerry, they would be two individuals who I would find particularly funny in this particular case.”

Both Healy-Rae and O’Regan are mentioned in Champagne Football. The book, which Rowan co-wrote with his Sunday Times colleague Mark Tighe, is out today.

Listen to the virtual book launch on the Second Captains website.