Pitch & Putt Ireland was saddened to learn of the death of our Patron Vincent Allen this morning. His successor as the writer of the weekly Echo column in Cork, John Manning pays tribute to the St Annes clubman here in the following piece as our thoughts this evening are with wife Phil, his children, the St Annes club and the Cork Pitch & Putt Community in general.
The Pitch and Putt world is mourning the loss of Pitch and Putt Ireland Patron Vincent Allen (R.I.P.).
For over 50 years, Vincent’s weekly Pitch and Putt column in the “Evening Echo” (later the ‘Echo’) formed essential reading for the Pitch and Putt community in Cork and beyond.
In 1969, St. Anne’s Pitch and Putt club was scarcely three years old. Its Vice Chairman Vincent Allen made his way to the Cork County Board Convention at the Metropole Hotel. Vincent was elected Press Officer of the Board and immediately took over production of the already-established Pitch and Putt column in the ‘Evening Echo’.
Already employed by the then “Cork Examiner” in Academy Street since 1959, Vincent soon made the Saturday Pitch & Putt column (previously penned by ‘Wedgeman’) his own.
At the same time as Vincent served as Vice Chairman of St. Anne’s in 1966, a certain Miss Philomena O’Leary was Secretary of the Club. Phil and Vincent married in 1969 and Phil was to be a huge support right through Vincent’s career as Pitch and Putt columnist.
Of course, Vincent occasionally took a holiday. But wherever he was in the world, be it Benalmadena or Ballycotton, the Pitch and Putt column always appeared. Renowned ‘Examiner’ journalist and golf historian Tim O’Brien (who became a close family friend) occasionally helped out when Vincent was on leave.
Vincent Allen received the Pitch and Putt Union of Ireland Hall of Fame award at the 1990 National Convention at the Hotel Blarney in recognition of his distinguished services to the sport.
His connections in the ‘Examiner’ delivered handsome sponsorship by the publishing giant of the Munster Mixed Foursomes and Team Event.
Vincent retired from his full-time position with the ‘Examiner’ in 1991 but continued to deliver high quality copy right through the title changes of the publications and moves from the iconic Academy Street premises, first to Lapps Quay and later to Blackpool.
An era truly ended in November 2019 when Vincent Allen retired from his position as Pitch & Putt correspondent with ‘Examiner’ publications.
Having resigned from Cork County Board in the mid-1970s, Vincent took on a publicity role with Munster Council in the 1980s and also served as a Central Council delegate.
Stories are legion of Vincent’s Intrepid pre-internet age efforts to telephone details of competitions, championships and meetings from all corners of the country back to the copy-takers in Cork as previews, reviews and reports of practically every county, Munster and national event appeared in the ‘Examiner/Echo’.
Vincent was no mean player in his day, achieving a best handicap of -2. He always spoke fondly of the rainy day that he defeated former National Matchplay champion John Foley in the St. Annes Club Matchplay. He won the Captain’s Prize at St. Anne’s in 1967 and captained the St. Annes Junior team to victory in the 1979 Munster Strokeplay Team Championship at Ardnacrusha.
Vincent was elected a Patron of the PPUI at 1998 Convention in Longford. He immersed himself in the playing, social and cultural side of Pitch & Putt and was part of successful St. Anne’s sides in Inter-Club quizzes.
Even when illness or serious surgery occasionally prevented Vincent from attending events in person, reports and photographs continued to appear. The superb photographs were largely thanks to Phil Allen’s dedicated camera work. Phil also involved herself in provincial administration as Munster PRO.
Such was its popularity, Vincent succeeded in increasing the Echo column from one page to two in 1994. The location of the column in the newspaper altered as did the day of publication (to Thursday) but the quality never varied.
Born into a political family (his father was Cork’s Lord Mayor in 1942), Vincent took a keen interest in the career of his nephew Bernard Allen, who was Minister for Sport in John Bruton’s Fine Gael-led Government.
Bernard’s wife Marie Allen was an accomplished Pitch and Putt player and Vincent also took a keen interest in her progress on the course as he did with all of his St. Anne’s colleagues. But his previews and reports in the press always remained resolutely neutral.
Vincent was indebted to (and maintained cordial relationships with) the countless club scribes who submitted copy down through the decades – the individual club ‘notes’ were an integral part of the column from Day One.
A highly-principled administrator and an articulate communicator, Vincent remained modest about his achievements. But there’s no doubt, his contribution to Pitch and Putt publicity in Cork and around Ireland was immense.
Ar dheis Dé go raibh a anam dílis.