The Leeside legends series: Dinny Allen grabbed big prizes in soccer and football

The Leeside legends series: Dinny Allen grabbed big prizes in soccer and football

Dinny Allen of Cork in action in 1984. Well known as a Nemo football legend, he was also a nifty hurler and a a good enough soccer player to win an FAI Cup with Cork Hibs. Picture: INPHO/Billy Stickland

DENIS ALLEN was rated one of the most talented Gaelic football players ever to don the red and white jersey of Cork.

Dinny, as he is affectionately known, was born in 1952 and attended Scoil Chríost Rí primary school before attending Coláiste Chríost Rí.

He won a U15 Munster hurling medal when Críost Rí defeated Limerick CBS in the final. 

Allen joined Nemo Rangers in 1964 and within six years he achieved major success.

Dinny Allen with 1970 City Division Minor Hurling Cup. Picture: Kevin Cummins
Dinny Allen with 1970 City Division Minor Hurling Cup. Picture: Kevin Cummins

In 1970, Nemo won the Cork County minor double in hurling and football and with league medals as well, Dinny had clinched six winning medals with two city division, two league and two county championships in one season.

However there was disappointment for the Nemo man that year when the Cork minor footballers lost to Kerry in the Munster final.

The plus side for Dinny saw him make it into the Nemo senior team that year, but 1970 was a year of great disappointment as they lost by a point to Muskerry in the county final.

Another loss in the 1971 senior championship was a bitter pill for Dinny to swallow but the disappointment was put behind him a year later when Nemo were crowned champions.

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

That win proved to be a golden era for Nemo as it was the beginning of an eight-year winning medal sequence for Dinny.

After the 1972 success Dinny played a leading part for his club as they won the 1975, ’77,’78, ’80, 83’, ’85, ’87 and 1988.

The power of the Trabeg club was also illustrated at All-Ireland club level as they won four titles in 1979, ’81, ’84 and 1989.

Dinny recalls 1973 with more than a tinge of disappointment as despite the county side winning the All-Ireland championship things weren’t going to plan at club level for the forward.

Gutted...

“I played in the county semi-final after the player I replaced went on holiday having been told he couldn’t go. But to my amazement the same player came back for the final and I was simply gutted.”

In 1972, Allen signed with local northside soccer club St Mary’s junior side and one incident he recalls proved regretful in his sporting career.

“I helped St Mary’s reach the FAI Junior Cup against Talbot United but I had a hurling league game with Nemo on the same day and I chose not to play with St Mary’s.

“Mary’s lost the final 3-1 and to this day I would put it down as the worst decision I made in sport.”

Dinny Allen beats Athlone Town keeper Mick O'Brien for the only goal of the League Cup game at Flower Lodge in '73.
Dinny Allen beats Athlone Town keeper Mick O'Brien for the only goal of the League Cup game at Flower Lodge in '73.

From there, Allen joined Cork Hibs in 1972 and what a move that turned out to be as they won the FAI Cup in the same season.

A sign of his sporting prowess was the fact he hurled with Cork at senior level before he made his mark with the footballers, capturing a Munster medal in '75, though he wasn't involved in subsequent years when they landed three All-Irelands.

Dinny Allen of Cork arguing a decision at Croke Park. Picture: INPHO/Billy Stickland
Dinny Allen of Cork arguing a decision at Croke Park. Picture: INPHO/Billy Stickland

Indeed it seemed he was destined never to land a senior All-Ireland as the Cork footballers lived in Kerry's shadow in the late '70s and early '80s, apart from a couple of rare league and Munster victories.

Dinny had to wait until 1989 to get his hands on a All-Ireland senior football medal, a year when the Rebels also secured the league. After a spell outside the Cork panel, he had been recalled by Billy Morgan and duly got to lift Sam Maguire.

Dinny Allen meets Sam Maguire. Picture: INPHO/Billy Stickland
Dinny Allen meets Sam Maguire. Picture: INPHO/Billy Stickland

“That was a magical year for me to captain my county to a senior All-Ireland title. When you think it only took me four months to win an FAI cup medal with Cork Hibs but I had to wait 19 years for my first and only senior All-Ireland.”

Nemo Rangers’ success is the envy of many clubs in this country and Dinny pinpointed the main reason for success. “To be honest I think we are one happy family at our club as we are genuine friends and that has stood to us down through the years and the elder lemons like myself enjoy giving something back to the youth of our club.”

Nemo suffered two shattering defeats in the 2001 and 2002 All-Ireland clubs finals to Crossmolina and Ballinderry but in 2003 they bounced back to contest their third consecutive final against Mayo side Crossmolina.

In a breathtaking game Nemo won by two points amid joyous scenes at Croke Park as Dinny reflected on a day that was sheer relief to the faithful. “The lads showed tremendous resilience as we finally broke the Croke Park hoodoo and to me this win was all about character of the entire squad.”

The name of Dinny Allen will surely go down among the names of the greatest footballers that Cork has produced.

Always a pleasure to watch, Allen was a devastating finisher and a superb opportunist.

FACTFILE:

Dinny Allen won eight Cork senior football championships medals with Nemo Rangers and four All-Ireland club titles.

Allen played junior soccer with St Mary’s of Cork before joining Cork Hibs in 1972.

He won a FAI Cup medal with Cork Hibs in 1972.

He won an All-Ireland football medal when he captained Cork in 1989. The county completed the double that year also winning the National Football league.

Dinny continued to be involved with his club in a coaching capacity at both football and hurling.

More in this section

Sponsored Content