Press pack dine out on Seventh Day
Sunday Independent stars of past and present greet sports anthology
A band of people more used to analysing the achievements of others came together on Wednesday night to celebrate one of their own as On The Seventh Day was launched in Dublin's famous Hodges Figgis bookshop.
The book, published by Mercier Press, is a collection of some of the finest writing of the last 30 years from the Sunday Independent sports section. Independent News and Media CEO Michael Doorly praised it as an idea whose time had come and which could lead to further raids on the archives in the future.
This historic foray into the past is the brainchild of the paper's sports editor John Greene who revealed that he'd had to whittle down the final line-up from a longlist of over 700 stories. Choosing the All-Stars seems an easy task by comparison.
On The Seventh Day showcases some brilliant sports writing, and features undoubted stars of the genre like Paul Kimmage, Eamon Dunphy, David Walsh and Eamonn Sweeney.
Other featured writers include Anthony Cronin, Joe Brolly, Neil Francis, Colm O'Rourke, Brendan Fanning, Marie Crowe, Dion Fanning, Richard Sadlier, Cliona Foley, Dermot Crowe, Tommy Conlon, Dermot Gilleece and Tom O'Riordan, covering a range of sports, like Gaelic football and hurling, soccer, rugby, golf, athletics, horse racing, boxing, snooker and more.
Launching the book was a typically emotional, irascible and entertaining Eamon Dunphy, who had a special word for the paper's longest-serving sportswriter, the doyen of Irish golf journalism Dermot Gilleece. Dunphy also delivered a heartfelt tribute to former editor Aengus Fanning who brought him to the paper and who, though he died six years ago, was very much a presence at the launch.
So were other figures who though their names don't appear in the book contributed hugely to making the writing collected in its pages possible. John Greene was joined by his predecessor Adhamhnan O'Sullivan. Current deputy sports editor Fergus McDonnell and his predecessor Seán Ryan were there too, as was the editor of the Sunday Independent, Cormac Bourke, and David Courtney, group head of sport content Like football, rugby and hurling, the making of newspapers is above all else a team game.
Perhaps appropriately given her initials Marie Crowe was MC on the night and coped patiently with that uniquely Irish phenomenon whereby people will always stand at the back of a room rather than fill empty seats at the front of it.
Afterwards the crew adjourned to a nearby bar where you could see Eamon Dunphy discussing George Best with Colm O'Rourke, Neil Francis holding forth on the contribution of New Zealand's military tradition to the fearsomeness of the All Blacks and Joe Brolly disclosing his admiration for Zinzan Brooke and Tadhg Furlong.
There was the makings of a very decent forward line, with members of the immortal Leitrim team which won the Connacht title in 1994, Ciarán Mahon and Liam Conlon, there to support a fellow Ballinamore man, Liam's brother Tommy.
It all had the air of a good-natured gathering of the tribe, a rare chance for people to mingle in an age when email means writers don't meet in offices that much anymore. Among the stories swapped were quite a few which will probably never make the sports pages.
We might still be trading tall tales in Duke Lane. But for all the technological advances of recent times, a couple of things haven't changed. Papers don't write themselves and in the land of the sports page the deadline is king. So we turned our faces to the weekend and bade adieu for now to friends present and absent.
It had been a great night to launch a great book full of great writing. Roll on Volume 2.
Sunday Indo Sport