Bernard Allen R.I.P

Tribute by John Manning

Bernard Allen R.I.P image

The Pitch and Putt community in Cork and beyond is mourning the loss of St. Anne’s stalwart Bernard Allen RIP.

Former TD, Minister for Sport and Cork Lord Mayor Bernard Allen had a lifelong association with the Shanakiel club.

In October 1968, Bernard Allen won Cork Pitch and Putt’s Conquer Cancer Trophy at Highfield in its inaugural year. He fired an 80 nett off 12 handicap to beat Highfield’s John Crowley on the tiebreaker.

St. Anne’s won the The 1969 Cork County Junior League title by beating Rocklodgeby 6½-2½ in the final at Collins. Bernard Allen was an inspiring captain of that St. Anne's team, which also included John Casey, Derry Foley, Bernard Waters, Eamon Terry, Jerry Power, Michael Spillane, Pat O’Leary and John Twomey. Allen masterminded early round wins over Collins, Carrigaline, Highfield and Ashgrove, which saw his Shanakiel side qualify for the decider with a 100% record from the group stages.

A graduate of the North Mon and University College Cork, Bernard was also closely involved with the St. Anne’s 1969 sides that finished second in the Golden Vale provincial team event at Castleisland and that captured Munster Junior Strokeplay team honours at St. Anne’s.                                      

Bernard’s deep commitment to St Anne’s dated back a long way. Elected Assistant Secretary in 1968, he became Vice Chairman in 1971. Some of the projects that he was involved with in the early years were the extension of the St. Anne’s course to 18 holes, the building of the club pavilion and the acquisition of important sponsorship.

As Chairman of St. Anne’s between 1972 and 1977, Bernard capably steered the club through the successful hosting of national events – the All Ireland Ladies Matchplay championship (the club’s first such foray) in 1972, the 1974 National Mixed Foursomes and the 1976 National Gents’Strokeplay championship.

A central theme of Bernard’s administration ethos was the social side of Pitch and Putt. The St. Anne’s club celebrated yet another first in 1974, this time not on the playing side but, in the CorkCounty BoardInter-club quiz. The team was Liam Houlihan, Charlie Brown, Anne Walsh, Bernard Allen (who had organised internal St. Anne’s club quizzes to prepare) and Ted Foley (putter). After beating Killeagh in the semis,St. Anne’s defeated Douglas in the final.

Bernard was first elected President of St. Anne’s in November 1977, which was immediately followed by another successful event hosting – the 1978 National Club Tournament.

Despite his administrative commitments and burgeoning political career, Bernard continued to campaign successfully on the course and won the Mixed Fourball at the 1974 St. Anne’s Open with Eleanor O’Regan on +12.

Bernard’s wife Marie was a also a leading light of St. Anne’s and a top player, winning Cork, Munster and All Ireland titles. Bernard was a nephew of long-serving Echo Pitch and Putt correspondent Vincent Allen RIP.

Bernard Allen was re-elected President of St. Anne’s every year between 1977 and 2022, extending his incredible unbroken service to beyond five decades.Throughout his political achievements and beyond, he retained a keen interest in the club, now in the 57th year of its existence, always recognising and congratulatingSt. Anne’s club members’ success, at home and abroad.

An avowed advocate for our sport in the corridors of political power and with sports development agencies, Bernard will be sorely missed. Sincere sympathy to Marie, daughters Audrey, Lorraine and Deirdre, to his extended family and to his huge cohort of friends and colleagues.Ardheis De go raibh a anam dílis.