Lowry enjoying life in Kilmessan

Story by Jimmy Geoghegan

Wednesday, 10th September, 2008 8:00am

DINNY Lowry tells a story of the day he came on to win his first and only full international cap for the Republic of Ireland. The game was at Dalymount Park in April 1962. The home side were playing Austria and netminder Alan Kelly picked up an injury late in the first-half. Suddenly Lowry had to answer Ireland"s call.

Lowry reckons that he was on the bench for Ireland for around 15 games in all, as understudy to the great Kelly. That Sunday afternoon in 'Dayler" was the only time he got the nod and the incident said a lot about the Irish team and international football at the time.

'When Alan got injured I remember saying 'Oh my God" I"m going to be going on,' Lowry recalled with a laugh last week from his home in Kilmessan.

'I was passing Charlie Hurley on the way onto the pitch and he said to me, 'Good luck Paddy". He didn"t know my name, but that didn"t bother me. In those days the players didn"t meet up until the day before the game or even the morning of the game. There was no such thing as any pre-match preparations.'

When he earned his senior cap Lowry was playing for St Patrick"s Athletic and he will be closely watching how the club fares out when they take on the German giants Hertha Berlin in the UEFA Cup next week.

For the past six years Lowry has lived in Kilmessan with his wife Dolores. They re-located to the Meath village to spend their retirement after Dinny spent 45 years working for Dublin City Council. A few months ago friends and family gathered in Kilmessan to mark the couple"s 50th wedding anniversary.

Dinny says that there is no great secret to their long and happy union. He adds he was simply fortunate to meet a 'marvellous lady,' who supported him all the way, even when it came to football.

He says that he was lucky in other respects. There was the long career in League of Ireland football with St Pat"s, Bohemians and Sligo Rovers.

Then there was time he spent with Shamrock Rovers as the team"s goalkeeping coach as well as 'bottle man and kit man.' He was at Milltown when Johnny Giles took charge in the late 1970s and attempted to revolutionise Irish soccer; an attempt that was to ultimately end in failure. Lowry was there during the glorious 1980s when Rovers dominated the domestic scene. He was still involved with the Hoops until shortly before he moved to Kilmessan.

Lowry had two chances to sign for Everton. Sheffield United were also interested. He resisted the temptation to move, happy to stay where he was, close to his friends and family. He says he harbours no regrets as he went on to enjoy a great career on the domestic front.

The list of honours he garnered backs up his claim. He won back-to-back League of Ireland titles with St Patrick"s in 1955 and "56. He twice won the FAI Cup with the Saints and turned out for the club in a European Cup Winners" Cup game against Dunfermline.

In March 1969 he was transferred to Bohemians becoming one of the first players to sign professional forms with the Dalymount club. The following year he helped Bohs to win the FAI Cup, defeating Sligo Rovers after a replay. A crucial late Lowry save from David Pugh helped Bohemians survive the first game and eventually win the competition for the first time since 1935 in a second replay.

When he was signed by Bohs Lowry felt he had hit the jackpot, receiving then the substantial sum of £10 a week as a semi-professional. It was a nice little extra to what he earned with the Dublin City Council.

There were those occasions when Lowry was selected for the League of Ireland representative side in the 1950s. He remembers an occasion when the Irish played an English League side packed with superstars including Billy Wright, Nat Lofthouse, John Atyeo and the Ronaldo of the day, Tom Finney. Not surprisingly the Irish lost (0-5).

These days Lowry can be seen regularly taking walks around Kilmessan. A few years ago he had to undergo operations on his knees, a legacy of his time spent diving on hard pitches, trying to prevent League of Ireland legends such as Mick Leech, Alfie Hale or the one and only 'Rosie" Henderson adding to their goalscoring tallies.

The Lowrys decided they wanted to build a house in Meath after travelling down to Kilmessan for many years to visit relatives in the area. One of those relatives, Maeve Devine, passed away in 2006 at the age of 103.

Dinny Lowry doesn"t go to many games now. He keeps a close watch on how St Pat"s are faring from his Meath home and when they line out against Hertha Berlin he could be forgiven for thinking back to this own days when he wore the colours.

He might also reflect on that day he won his one and only senior cap for Ireland. One of the chapters in a colourful career.

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