God never had any respect for the football transfer window. He feels it limits his options and you know how God is when it comes to having his will imposed on us mere mortals. But in assembling a football squad worthy of representing Heaven, he made one hell of a signing this week when he selected one of Galway’s most loved and most talented sportsmen. And like any football signing, his loss has left his family, friends, and supporters bereft.
A lot of fine footballers have been taken from us over the years, even here in Galway, but the sense of shock this week when the news filtered through of the death of Eamon Deacy has left a lot of us reeling. On two fronts, because Eamon was the devoted husband of our colleague Mary O’Connor, and also because he was a true gentleman, and a gentle man for whom nobody had a bad word.
There is something poetic though about the thought of Chick Deacy once again labouring alongside Miko Nolan in the Heaven midfield, doing the hard work to allow the likes of the recently-departed Socrates to get all the glory. In May 1982, when Chick played for the Republic of Ireland against Brazil in the Maracana, I am sure neither Socrates nor himself, both young men in their prime, facing each other across a celebrated pitch, could ever have realised they would depart this life within months of each other, and in both cases, shockingly too early.
Eamon Deacy was an icon in Galway football circles. His was the ultimate ‘local boy done good.’ He pestered English clubs for a chance to show his ability and he came home some time later, one of the few Irishmen (outside Liverpool or United or Arsenal ) to have in his possession a Division One League Championship medal.
He was the complete antithesis of the modern day professional footballer. A million miles removed from the likes of Ashley Cole who admitted he nearly crashed his car when his club only offered him €80,000 a week. Nothing made Eamon happier than the thought of playing a committed game of football and then working hard in the family business to do his best to support his beloved family.
I last met Chick about a month or so ago, near the children’s section in Easons when, in a discussion about life which was inspired by his meeting my three-year-old daughter, he spoke of the contentment he enjoyed and the great love he had for his family, his wife Mary, his daughter Dawn and his son Jake. He was a man who had found contentment, not in the material matters that occupy all modern day footballers, but in the realisation that life is about being a decent human being. And that he certainly was...
It has been a rough year for Galway. We have lost a lot of things, airports, football clubs, jobs, good men and women, and now the city has lost a hero.
We will all feel the pain of his absence, but none more acutely than his family, Mary and his daughter and son, Dawn and Jake. Thank you for sharing him with us, remember what a great man he was, and picture in your mind’s eye, himself and Miko above the clouds, laying into Bestie for not tracking back. Farewell, Chick and thanks for the memories.