Allen looks to future at Limerick

JOHN ALLEN said yesterday he was “flattered and delighted” to be approached to manage Limerick, having been ratified as senior hurling manager of the Treaty County on Tuesday night.

The former Cork dual star, who coached the Rebels to the 2005 All-Ireland hurling title, said that as recently as a month ago he hadn’t realistically considered returning to top-flight management.

Despite the challenges, Allen added he was happy to be back involved in inter-county management.

“I am, I was flattered by the offer and delighted to accept it,” he said yesterday.

“Last year I was nominated by a club for the position but things were different then, I was still teaching.

“Since then I’ve retired so I have more time on my hands, obviously, and Limerick are a very promising group. They have a potentially very good team with a lot of good players around the 19 to 21 years of age mark, so there’s obviously a lot of potential there.”

It’s the second time he’s succeeded Donal O’Grady, having replaced his clubman as Cork manager at the end of the 2004 season, but this time round it wasn’t on his agenda.

“I wasn’t considering it a month or three weeks ago, certainly, I didn’t see myself going back into management, but with the change in my [working] circumstances, it was a different scenario to last year.

“I had to weigh up a lot of things — there’s a cost to yourself in getting into inter-county management, there’s a lot of demands on your time, the media, there’s a lot more driving involved, obviously, in getting from Cork to Limerick.

“There was also the possibility that I could be in a dressing room across the hallway from a Cork dressing room where I’d still have a lot of friends, and the prospect of having to go across to congratulate or commiserate with those players. That had to be weighed up, too.”

When he weighed the pros and cons, however, Allen decided to take up the challenge.

“Whenever there’s change there’s going to be a certain amount of fear and uncertainty, but on balance I felt it’d be a rewarding situation to be in,” he said.

“I’m Cork through and through and of course it’ll be different wearing a green and white top on the sideline instead of a red and white one, but at the same time you have a lot of managers involved outside their own counties.

“I’m hardly breaking new ground in that regard.”

The St Finbarr’s clubman is happy with his backroom team and won’t be slow to bring in expert advice if necessary.

“I have good men with me, which is very important — I wouldn’t claim to have a monopoly on all the knowledge necessary and I’ll be leaning on them. We’ll share out the work together and run the thing in a cooperative way.

“If we need extra help in term of nutritionists, sports psychologists and so on, we’ll find that too.”

As of now, Allen said the initial aim is to do well in the league and to prepare well for the Munster SHC quarter-final with Tipperary next year.

“Obviously the focus will be to on having the team ready for Tipperary next summer. You’re talking about the Munster champions, the All-Ireland champions just a couple of years ago, so they’re one of the strongest teams around.

“That’ll be a big challenge but we’ll be doing everything to get the team up to that level.”

Meanwhile Tipperary’s 2010 All-Ireland senior medallist Benny Dunne is retiring from inter-county hurling.

The Toomevara clubman, 31, has informed team manager Declan Ryan that he does not wish to be considered for selection in 2012.

Sources close to the player have indicated it was an agonising decision. Dunne, Tipperary captain in 2005, made his senior competitive debut for the Premier County against Derry in March 2002.

His championship debut followed against Clare later that year and in the 2002 Munster final defeat to Waterford, utility man Dunne scored 2-2.

Younger brother of Tipperary team coach Tommy, Benny made a total of 39 championship appearances for the county’s senior team, scoring 5-31 in the process.

He was sent off in the 2009 All-Ireland SHC final against Kilkenny after coming on as sub but that anguish was wiped away 12 months later when Dunne scored a superb long-range point in the closing minutes of the revenge mission against the Cats, again in the role of substitute.

Dunne’s last championship appearance came this year against Waterford in the Munster final, when he replaced Gearóid Ryan as a 54th-minute substitute.

More in this section