ONE of the great figures in the history of Fermoy GAA club, Dave 'Rookie' Roche, has passed away at the age of 97.
The town of Fermoy united to salute the senior football medalist with the club in 1945, who also played for Cork and traveled to the United States in 1952 as part of the first All-Star Tour.
He was a keen golfer, renowned plasterer and gifted singer, winning the Over 60s competition in 1985 and singingat midnight mass in Fermoy for a number of years. His grá for music was as strong as his passion for GAA, and he was a member of the Fermoy Musical Society as well as the parish choir.
Family was also hugely important to Dave Roche, who is survived by Helen and his sons Tim and Barry. He was a very well-known figure in Fermoy and the wider area, with a wicked sense of humour and such a variety of interests.
He shone for Fermoy at senior level until 1960, when the club's footballers were constantly challenging for the county title, enjoying a series of epic games with Clonakilty.
His exploits with Cork led to selection for the All-Star Tour to the US and he lined out with some Leeside Legends like Eamonn Young and Jack Lynch.
Fermoy chairman Brendan Keane posted:
"Sad to learn of the death today of Dave 'Rookie' Roche esteemed Fermoy GAA club man, Cork player and member of 1945 Cork senior football winning @fermoygaa team.
"Great voice and lifelong member of Fermoy Musical Society. A great storyteller and gentleman.
"Condolences to Tim, family and friends. Ní bheidh a leithéad Ann arís."
While he reached the great age of 97 last May, his nickname was Rookie. A rock-solid goalkeeper, he originally played outfield and in a challenge match as a youngster let fly on a crossfield ball that flew into the net.
'Not bad for a rookie,' he joked and from there on he was known as Rookie.
His nephew Bernard Fleming is a wonderful artist and a charcoal drawing of Rookie was selected for exhibition at the 184th Royal Hibernian Academy Annual Exhibition. It is now a fitting tribute to his uncle.