DAVE CREEDON died last Monday.He was 87.
His name may not chime with younger generations, but he was one of the finest goalkeepers ever to pick up a hurley, earning his reputation when the goal-line could be a hardship posting.
He came to national prominence in 1952 when he was 33, an age when players even in the less frenetic fifties were looking at the exit door. He’d retired from intercounty service with Cork at that stage, having picked up an All-Ireland medal as a substitute in 1946, and was content to play for his club, Glen Rovers. However, injuries, illness and suspensions ruled out the likes of Jim Cotter, Sean Carroll and Mick Cashman, and the county selectors invited Creedon back. (How well Cork have been served by ‘keepers whose surnames start with C, by the way; the likes of Creedon, Cashman, Coleman, Cunningham and Cusack all did well for the county).
Creedon was a lucky omen, helping Cork bar the way to Tipperary’s bid for four-in-a-row in the ‘52 Munster final, and he also excelled in that year’s All-Ireland decider against Dublin.
That great figure of ancien regime GAA reporting, Carbery, paid him due tribute: “Creedon was tested severely in the winners’ goal; Herbert and McCarthy crashed balls at the Glen man, and he saved gallantly, a great beginning to a great game by a son of the famous Micus Creedon of another athletic generation”.
Creedon foreshadowed the year’s dramatic conclusion to last year’s All-Ireland semi-final, by the way: according to Carbery, in 1952 he was pulling down “bullet-like seventies”, which were heading over the bar.
Carbery’s nod to previous generations was no accident either. Micus’ brother Frank, known to his friends as Tacker, had once stood in a boxing ring with John L Sullivan, the heavyweight boxing champion of the world, when the great man arrived in Cork on a world tour and took on all comers on a music-hall stage. Sullivan was past his best at that stage, but that didn’t make him a man you’d elbow out of a bus queue.
He wouldn’t fight Creedon’s uncle – “He’s too small”, said the ex-champion — but Sullivan recognised a hardy competitor when he saw one, and gave his would-be opponent a medal still cherished by the Creedon family.
For a flavour of Dave Creedon’s ability try The Spirit of the Glen, the club history accessible on the Glen Rovers website at glenroverscork.com. One photograph from the 1952 All-Ireland final shows the goalkeeper lying full-length on the ground, looking directly at the camera, the sliotar in his hand — behind him a Dublin forward is in mid-air, goal celebrations arrested as he realises Creedon has denied him his moment of glory.
An accomplished basketball player, Creedon won three county senior football medals with St Nicks, and, when he fell in with Nemo Rangers, at the start of the sixties, he helped them win four junior city hurling medals — thirty years after his first minor county medal, won in 1933.
One of the first ‘keepers to use a slightly enlarged bas, Creedon served his club as a player, officer and selector over a span of fifty years, but the service was sometimes oblique. He loaned a hurley to the club-mate who replaced him for a crucial Churches Tournament game in Dublin in 1952, and that club-mate still remembers Creedon’s words of encouragement on the long train journey back to Cork after the game.
And the take-home point? For several years I had an enjoyable pre-lunch pint in the Glen Rovers clubhouse of a Sunday morning, where Dave Creedon and pals like Paddy “Chancer” Barry occupied the seat under the window, but it never occurred to me to chat to them about the old days. After all, there was always next week.
Until last Monday. Let that be a lesson to you all.
Ar dheis Dé go raibh a anam dílis.
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