Dinny Allen's assist for Teddy Mac was as good as anything Ciarán McDonald produced in Croke Park

Dinny Allen's assist for Teddy Mac was as good as anything Ciarán McDonald produced in Croke Park
Dinny Allen of Cork in action in a classic GAA geansaí. Picture: INPHO/Billy Stickland

ON Twitter in the past few days, we came across a clip of Teddy McCarthy's goal in the drawn 1988 All-Ireland final.

It was a cool, close-range finish through the keeper's legs from the dual icon, but what was more impressive was the assist from Dinny Allen. An angled, dropkick that floated over the Meath rearguard into Teddy Mac's grasp, straight out of the Ciarán McDonald or Diarmuid Connolly repertoire.

As Ger Canning pointed out on the commentary, it was the 36-year-old's first All-Ireland final appearance. The Nemo native had been on the periphery for a few years before a recall from Billy Morgan.

Dinny Allen battling hard in Rebel red.
Dinny Allen battling hard in Rebel red.

Maybe it was experience as much as ability that gave Allen the confidence to execute it on the big stage; a forgotten piece of magic. There was a neat kick-pass from Bishopstown's Paul McGrath in the build-up too. McGrath was one of the unsung heroes of that Cork crew.

Unfortunately, the Rebels weren't able to build on McCarthy's early green flag and only added nine points in a 0-12 to 1-9 draw. Their great rivals of the era – it seems fanciful now that Kerry weren't Cork's biggest obstacle in the quest for All-Ireland glory in those halcyon days – then ground out a victory in the replay.

Dinny Allen battling for the ball against Monaghan, with Larry Tompkins in the background. Picture: INPHO/Billy Stickland
Dinny Allen battling for the ball against Monaghan, with Larry Tompkins in the background. Picture: INPHO/Billy Stickland

In the absence of live sport as the Coronavirus pandemic puts the world on pause, we have to get our fix from blasts from the past. Ray Boyne, the highly-regarded GAA analyst who helped Dublin and Tipp to silverware, has been putting up a host of classic clips online and for that we're grateful.

Dinny Allen was a childhood hero in my house. He captained Cork to Sam Maguire in 1989, the first I attended, watching from my father's lap in the Cusack Stand.

I then got his autograph after a testimonial between a Cork City selection and a Cobh Ramblers line-up for one of the original 'super keepers', the late Alex Ludzik. Huge excitement for a 10-year-old on a sun-kissed May evening in 1990.

Alex Ludzic, Liam Brady and Miah Dennehy pictured at the Cork City v Cobh Ramblers Alex Ludzic Testimonial in 1990. Picture: Eddie O'Hare.
Alex Ludzic, Liam Brady and Miah Dennehy pictured at the Cork City v Cobh Ramblers Alex Ludzic Testimonial in 1990. Picture: Eddie O'Hare.

Liam Brady starred in front of the Shed as a guest for Cobh, duelling with Patsy Freyne, while Denis Irwin, Brian Carey and Roy Keane had been down to feature as well initially. God himself, Jimmy Barry-Murphy came on in the second half for Brady. 

JBM, who played for Cork Celtic in 1972, in action for the Cobh Ramblers Selection after coming on for Liam Brady.
JBM, who played for Cork Celtic in 1972, in action for the Cobh Ramblers Selection after coming on for Liam Brady.

Davie Barry was there too. Another dual soccer-football dynamo.

Yet for an impressionable fourth-class kid, Allen was the main man. In the years after, many of the City players that day would become heroes too, especially Barry, Pat Morley and Deccie Daly – my favourite full-back aside from Paolo Maldini (disclaimer: I was an apprentice full-back).

Allen is the archetype of a GAA idol, utterly approachable. No-nonsense too, like that famous time he bounced up from a Páidí Ó Sé left hook. 

Make no mistake though, he had talent to burn.

Cork and Nemo football legend Dinny Allen, kicking a free for Munster. Picture: Ray McManus/SPORTSFILE
Cork and Nemo football legend Dinny Allen, kicking a free for Munster. Picture: Ray McManus/SPORTSFILE

He was involved with the Cork hurlers back in 1975 when they lifted a Munster crown but were ambushed by Galway in the All-Ireland semi-final. In another universe, he would have stayed on board and starred with the great three-in-a-row outfit.

He won an FAI Cup with Cork Hibs, and later lined out for Cork United, and was arguably good enough to have played cross-channel. 

Dinny Allen scores a goal for Cork Hibs in 1973.
Dinny Allen scores a goal for Cork Hibs in 1973.

Yet would that have been as sweet as, eventually, raising Sam aloft for the Rebel faithful? Hardly!

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