August 16, 2019
Timmy Creed quit the tough Irish sport damaged and disillusioned. But he returned to his club ‘undercover’ – to turn its toxic masculinity into a play. He swings a stick at our wimpy writer
I felt like a spy infiltrating the IRA – the hurling player who exposed his sport
‘You can hit people,” says Timmy Creed, reassuringly, as he swings his hurling stick inches from my head. “As long as you’re going for the ball, you can do what you want.” Creed is teaching me how to use a “hurley” properly. Not because I’m considering a switch into the world of gaelic sports (my inability to hold the stick correctly put paid to that idea, along with the fact that I’m a total wimp who hates getting hurt) but because he’s promoting his new play, Spliced. It’s about hurling, the Irish sport Creed spent much of his teens and 20s playing to an impressively high club level. But it’s also about more than that – masculinity, peer pressure, body image, conformity, feminism and self-discovery.
Creed thinks it will help the interview if we knock a hurling ball around to get a feel for the game. (The play is normally staged outdoors, in one of Ireland’s numerous handball alleys, although for its run in Edinburgh a squash court will suffice.) Mercifully, he plays gentle with me as he explains his love-hate relationship with the sport that moulded him. “It gave me an identity,” he says. “But that identity shapes the way you are with men, with women, with how you see the world. A whole other side to you gets missed.”
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