FAI pays tribute to legend Tony Dunne
Former Ireland and Manchester City striker Niall Quinn, now Interim Deputy CEO of the FAI, was a regular visitor to the Altrincham golf driving range that Dubliner Dunne ran after his playing days at Shelbourne, United, Bolton Wanderers and Detroit Express.
Capped 33 times for Ireland between 1962 and 1975, Dunne is acknowledged as one of the finest left-backs to ever play the game and won a European Cup with United in their famous Wembley win over Benfica in ’68.
“Tony was a wonderful character and a great host at his driving range in Altrincham, I loved going there to hit a few balls and have a chat with him,” remembered Niall, a City player from 1990 to 1996.
“He was passionate about his football and loved nothing better than telling me every time I visited that the players of his generation were streets ahead of my colleagues at City and the United team of the time. For Tony, there was no doubt that Francis Lee, Mike Summerbee and Colin Bell were streets ahead of anything in the City team I played in.
“It was the same with his beloved Manchester United. At the time the likes of Bryan Robson, Eric Cantona, Roy Keane and Mark Hughes were the star players but Tony wasn’t having it – Denis Law, Bobby Charlton and George Best were in a different league.
“I remember one day remarking how well Sparky Hughes was doing for United and Tony got visibly upset with me as he compared Mark to Denis Law and explained to me how better Denis was back in his day.”
Ireland’s Player of the Year in 1969, Tony Dunne did make a concession for one fellow Irishman in his past v present argument back in the early 90s. Niall recalled: “The one modern player he did concede on was Denis Irwin who did, of course, play left-back in a title winning United team like Tony and played for Ireland as well. He did admit Denis was top class and might have made it in his United squad!
“I used to love those chats with Tony. It was always football and seldom golf talk with him, bar to tell me I was too tall and my swing was too unique to get it right. I think he just wanted me to keep spending money at his range – and I just wanted to talk football with him.
“Tony Dunne was a great footballer with a career to match. He never forgot his Drimnagh roots and I will always cherish the memory of my time with him. Our sympathies go to Tony’s family, may he rest in peace.”
FAI President Gerry McAnaney has also paid tribute to former Shelbourne star Dunne. "Tony is fully deserving of his place in Irish football's Hall of Fame," remarked the President. "His career will stand the test of time and his achievements with Manchester United are the stuff of legend. On behalf of everyone involved with the game here in Ireland, may I pass on our sympathies to the Dunne family at this sad time."