THE present pandemic is certainly affecting the majority of people in the country in a significant way.
For former Cork football star Denis ‘Dinny’ Allen, it’s all about staying focused and positive.
The start of the National Leagues in both hurling and football in recent weeks has brought a huge lift of positivity within the sport, and Dinny has been looking at the progress of both Cork teams.
“To be honest, looking at the hurling games, it’s the equivalent of Barcelona hurling and although credit to the Cork hurlers — they have some got some good results — I have a big doubt with this shorthand passing game,” he said.
“I was listening to Mark Coleman being interviewed after the Tipp game, and he remarked it’s all about sticking to the plan — but for me, they have got to have a Plan B in their locker.”
Allen believes the shorthand passing game of Cork will be exposed.
“I hope I’m proved wrong, but I think it will be easy counteracted once the opposition know you are going to do it, and although Donal O’Grady brought All-Irelands to Cork with this system, I think it’s gone up another level since then.”
It took Allen six years before he achieved major success after joining Nemo Rangers in 1964.
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 in that year when the Cork Minor footballers lost to Kerry in the Munster final.
On the plus side for Dinny, that year saw him make it into the Nemo senior team — but 1970 was a year of great disappointment as they lost by a single point to Muskerry in the county final. Another loss in the 1971 senior Championship was a bitter pill to swallow, but the disappointment was put behind him a year later when Nemo were crowned champions.
That win proved to be a golden era for Nemo, as it was the beginning of an eight-year medal-winning 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.
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.”
The present inter-county football standard is more about tactics and systems than the present club scene, according to Dinny.
I am not being negative because I could go to Ballinlough and enjoy a junior club football game, because in general the players, even up to senior level, have more freedom to show their skills."
Last season Cork football suffered a shock defeat to Tipperary in the Munster football, a result that shocked the Cork GAA fraternity, but Dinny believes it was a strange performance.
“I am not trying to knock any player that played on that day, but to me, it looked as if they gave all their passion against Kerry and it was the complete opposite against Tipperary as they showed little or no aggression. It was strange in the space of two weeks how a team’s form could dip so much, and the harsh reality is that Tipp didn’t fluke the game, they deserved their win.”
After being involved in various teams at Nemo, Dinny took a step back in recent years — but like many former teammates, you never lose your affinity to the club.
“The last team I coached was the Junior A hurling team three years ago, but I will always be a Nemo man, as this was the club that helped me reach the pinnacle of my career.”
In recent years, Dinny lost friends Jim Cremin and Ger Kiely in the Nemo club, saddening all at the Trabeg outfit.
“Jim, as we all know, was the key man in our club for the last 40 years and a great friend, as his commitment was simply outstanding and, God love him, he will always be sadly missed and remembered by many of us.
“The story of Ger Kiely was that he bought a house in Douglas many years ago and got involved in the club and became more of a genuine Nemo man, and in a nutshell he was a gentleman to the core.”
Nemo are the envy of many clubs as their success rate over the years has been incredible at all levels.
“The one mystery for everybody looking in is just when you think Nemo are on the slide, but somehow we always got players from U21 teams who maybe never won at this grade, but trained on to be serious senior players.”
As the country gets ready to return to some kind of normality, Dinny is looking forward to seeing spectators get back into grounds all over the country.
“When you play for your club you don’t care whether it’s two or 40 spectators, as it’s all about pride of the jersey, But on a personal note, I don’t know how inter-county players are managing to do it, as this is the biggest stage of all to play on.”