Allen made the decision to substitute Corcoran, replacing him with Neil Ronan, as well as replacing Ronan Curran at centre-back, where John Gardiner filled in with aplomb. The decisions helped turn the tide in Cork’s favour before they went on to beat Galway in the final.
“With 15 minutes to go, Clare were leading and playing much better than us,” Allen says on his Laochra Gael show on TG4 this Sunday. “I was there on the sideline, in my first year as manager thinking, ‘Janey, what do I do?’ I was mortified at the thought of losing a semi-final. We were in deep trouble all over the field.
“I went up and said (to his selectors), ‘Look, we have to take Brian off and put Ronan on,’ and we did that. John Gardiner was superb in the last quarter. If we’d lost that game, there would have been a furore in Cork about taking Brian Corcoran off.”
Allen never felt pressure taking over from Donal O’Grady, with whom he had helped guide Cork to an All-Ireland title the previous season.
“People were saying, ‘You were under big pressure coming into a winning team’. But I didn’t see it like that. To me, being the manager was a great honour.
“The first night we were back training in early January I remember Seán Óg Ó hAilpín saying, ‘John, I’d like to talk to the lads’. He went into the dressing room and I stayed outside the door. He said, ‘John Allen is manager. He says, ‘Jump,’ we say ‘how high?’ End of story.”
“That was the kind of atmosphere where everyone gave their all to get results. We talked about tactics and scenarios, but that was it. The selectors made the decisions and I had the final say.” ·
- Laochra Gael, 5.30pm, Sunday