Ned Cregan 1901-1972 Pat Sugrue
The name Cregan is synonymous with Limerick hurling down through the years. Now days Eamonn and Michael Cregan are household names but in the early years of this century their father Ned was creating a niche for himself in the annals of the association.
Ned was born at the beginning of the century 1901, in the parish of Monagea and just a few hundred yards from the birthplace of another true Gael Bill Hough. In his early youth his heroes would have been the Shanahan's, the Green's, the Hough's etc, then household names on the playing fields of West Limerick and further afield.
In those bygone days interest in youth affairs in Monagea was minimal and most effort was concentrated on the senior hurling team in the parish. So Ned Cregan with other youths of Monagea would have watched their heroes train in the field supplied by the then parish priest Fr. Edward Clifford.
The glory days of Monagea hurling were over, however when Ned was ready to line out "with the men"; consequently he had to wait until 1919 when he played his first match with Newcastle West.
The association had experienced its difficulties in its earlier years, but it had settled down to run an efficient organisation, which was the envy of many other organisations through the country. Alas this was not the case with the fledgling new Republic which had been proclaimed in 1916. Ned became involved with the struggle for National Independence and his courage and heroism in this cause is well documented elsewhere.
When peace was restored, Ned returned to the playing fields of Limerick. Monagea were still without a team at this time, so he lined out with the Ashford junior hurling side, of 1925. The following year he returned to the Newcastle West colours in which he won numerous West Limerick championships besides many tournament successes. During the period 1917-1932 Newcastle experienced its most glorious years and many men from Monagea were closely associated with the glories of this era,
In 1927 he experienced the cut and thrust of inter county hurling when he played with the Limerick junior hurling side that won the Munster championship. The following year he was on the senior side and he continued to wear the Limerick jersey with distinction until 1936, when after a trip to the United States with the county side he retired from the game. On the county side he lined out at right full back and an old judge of hurling once commented on his style of play "Ned is as steady as a rock, the best of tacklers, with two good hands, Best at close quarters, he has pace and driving skill and is a sterling man where play is hottest", This description of a man who played his hurling nearly sixty years ago, could forty years later be used to describe his son Eamon's exploits on the playing fields.
During Ned's long and distinguished career with club and county, success was nothing new to him as can be judged from his collection of winners medals. These Include one All Ireland senior hurling medal, two National hurling league, three Munster senior medals, one Munster junior medal, one Railway cup and several Thomond Feis and tournament momentous including a World Cup tournament medal which the Limerick side won in the United States in 1936. Like many a good player of the past and indeed the present, one medal eluded him, that being a county senior hurling championship success. He came close to fulfilling this ambition in 1930 when Newcastle West drew with Young Irelands only to suffer defeat in the replay. In their book "One Hundred Years of Glory", a history of Limerick G.A.A., Seamus 0 Ceallaigh and Sean Murphy described the replay as follows. "All attendance records were smashed for the replay when 5,240 spectators, saw Young Irelands triumph over Newcastle West 4-2 to 1-4, after a game of thrills in which two great teams kept the huge throng at fever pitch for fifty five minutes. It will undoubtedly live in memory as one of the most exciting tussles for championship glory ever witnessed in Limerick.
Another feature of Ned Cregan's performances on the field of play and a fact he was very proud of was, he never retired during his long career from any game even though he suffered severe enough injuries at times. A record fully in keeping with the traditions of the olden arena, that were so strong in the Monagea of his early youth.
1940 to 1973 was a long barren period for Limerick Hurling as far as All Ireland successes were concerned. When the break through was made, another Cregan was to the fore but Ned alas was not there to share the glory with his sons, Michael trainer and Eamonn player, for twelve months prior, the lord had called this son of Monagea to his Eternal reward.