Friday 23 March 2018

Tributes flow for one of the 'great writers'

NOEL DUNNE (December 25, 1932 –November 16, 2012)

ROOM 88 at Independent House in Abbey Street used be filled with industry, mischief and mirth as one of the finest and most feted sports reporting teams in the history of Irish journalism endlessly bounced jokes, jibes and ideas off each other.

It was a different, more romantic era and, like the clatter of typewriters and clouds of cigarette smoke, many of the great characters have gone.

Another link with those treasured times was lost yesterday with the passing of Noel Dunne after a short illness. Among all the characters in Room 88, Noel, Soccer Correspondent of the Irish Independent from 1967 until his retirement in 1994, was the quiet man.

Yet behind a calm, deceptively laid-back exterior lay a deep passion for the sport he covered and the people who played, watched and worked in it.

Educated at Blackrock College, he shone as a speedy winger on that famous rugby nursery's Leinster Senior Cup team in 1950.

Yet Dunne favoured soccer and was even offered a trial with Home Farm after leaving school.

The call of sports journalism proved stronger and he spent his entire working career on the staff at Independent Newspapers.

At first he wrote on soccer and golf, earning his first byline in 1957. He served as soccer correspondent of the Evening Herald before being asked to fill the considerable shoes of 'WP' Murphy when the doyen died in 1967.

Noel established a reputation throughout Irish soccer as an authoritative, fair and impartial observer. He witnessed the rise of several generations of great Irish players, from Charlie Hurley through John Giles to Liam Brady and Paul McGrath.

The steady train of 'heroic defeats' and fruitless attempts to qualify for a major championship final ended with the appointment of Jack Charlton as Republic of Ireland manager in 1986.

"Noel was a great friend of my father and had soldiered in the football game for many years," said FAI CEO John Delaney last night. "I remember him being particularly pleased to see the Republic of Ireland playing at Euro 88 and Italia 90.

"Noel was a great football reporter and he will be sadly missed by the Irish football family. He was very highly regarded for his work and personality."

Dunne, former President of the Irish Soccer Writers Association, was described by FAI President Paddy McCaul as "one of the great soccer writers of our time. He provided a great insight into the game with his writing and commentary and will be sadly missed."

He is survived by his wife Norma, their daughter Anne-Marie Andreasson and three grandchildren.

Karl MacGinty

Irish Independent

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