Tuesday 20 March 2018

What’s Your Sports Book of the Year?

It's been a vintage year for the sports books

Insights in to top-flight Premier League; stories from the heart of Irish rugby, the world of Irish racing and breeding opened up .. revelatory sports books have kept on coming this year.

Some top class books are in the running for the Bord Gáis Energy Sports Book of the Year 2016 with a range of titles for sports fans and supporters. Who will come out on top?

Last year’s award went to Jim McGuinness for his memoir ‘Until Victory Always’. The year before saw Brian O’Driscoll’s ‘The Test’ claim the top prize.

The Bord Gáis Energy Irish Book Awards is Ireland’s largest literary celebration, recognising and rewarding all that’s great about the Irish literary industry. This autumn, Bord Gáis Energy returns as title sponsor for the seventh year. The shortlist has been announced and votes can be cast until midnight on November 11, the winners will be announced in the Double Tree by Hilton Hotel on November 16.

Here are some of the top sports books we’re reading right now that feature the very best of Irish writing and have been shortlisted. Which will get your vote?


1. Blood, Sweat and McAteer, A Footballer’s Story - Jason McAteer

Jason McAteer.  “A little bit bruised, a little bit battered, but still fighting” - Jason McAteer’s goal against Holland which helped Ireland to a play-off that ultimately resulted in qualification for the 2002 World Cup still remains one of the most memorable moments in Irish footballing history.

His new book chronicles his childhood growing up in the shadow of Liverpool FC, signing with Bolton Wanderers at the age of 21, the call to the international scene and then to his beloved Liverpool FC and his dreams becoming a reality. The player looks back with his characteristic searing honesty and humour at his time with the Irish World Cup squad of 1994 to the tumultuous days in Saipan in 2002, his decision to leave Liverpool for Blackburn Rovers, move to Sunderland and the depression he fell in to after finishing his professional career with Tranmere Rovers.  Not your run of the mill football book, will this autobiography scoop the prize?


2. Coolmore Stud, Ireland’s Greatest Sporting Success Story – Alan Conway

This Mercier Press title charts the rise of one of Ireland’s greatest sporting success stories. “Nestled in a quiet part of County Tipperary, Coolmore Stud casts as long a shadow as any sporting entity over the history of Irish sport”. Founded by the legendary horse trainer Vincent O’Brien and now managed by John Magnier, the stud has grown from a small breeding farm into a global behemoth, renowned across the world over for the quality of its horses. The training operation at Ballydoyle now dominates the world of horse breeding and racing. 

The book reveals the stories of the people involved and the legendary syndicate of Magnier, O’Brien and Robert Sangster and the famous horses it has produced such as ‘Sadler’s Wells’, his sons ‘Galileo’ and ‘Montjeu’ and the mighty ‘Danehill’.


3.  My Life in Rugby – Donal Lenihan

Player, manager and pundit, Donal Lenihan has “seen it all” in the world of rugby. His witty and insightful autobiography ‘My Life in Rugby’ doesn’t disappoint. This book, published by Transworld Ireland, tells a wealth of stories from on and off the pitch.

A victorious captain of Munster Junior and Senior Schools, Donal went on to head up the Ireland team at the inaugural Rugby World Cup in New Zealand in 1987 and was a fixture in the second row for over a decade.  Selected for three British and Irish Lions tours, he was famous for skippering the unbeaten ‘Donal’s Doughnuts’ side before taking charge of both Ireland and the Lions as Manager.

And as a much-respected analyst, Donal is also not short on voicing his opinion on the rights and wrongs of the modern game and how the transition from the amateur to the professional era has affected the heart and soul of rugby.


4. Out of Control – Cathal Mc Carron (Simon & Schuster)

The talent of Tyrone footballer, Cathal McCarron has seen him nominated for an All-Star twice in the last three years. However, he hid a dark secret for years - a gambling addiction which almost destroyed him.

Unlike any other story written by a GAA player before, McCarron reveals how his life spiraled viciously out of control and how he tried to run from his troubled past but eventually started on the road back to rehabilitation and a remarkable recovery in 2015. 

His story is an extraordinarily personal tale told with searing honesty, revealing the pressures on inter-county players and his own battle from the depths of depression. McCarron is still an active inter-county player and his journey takes readers inside the dressing room of a team with serious ambitions of winning another All-Ireland title.


5. The Battle – Paul O’Connell (Penguin Ireland)

There has never been a rugby player quite like Paul O’Connell. The Battle is the revelatory autobiography of a rugby colossus. Synonymous with passion, heart and determination, he’s also described as “the thinking man's rugby player, a legendary student of the game”.

As the heartbeat of Munster, British and Irish Lions captain in 2009, and captain of the first Ireland team to defend a Six Nations championship, O'Connell has emerged as perhaps the most beloved of the golden generation of Irish rugby players.

This autobiography is described as “as intense as its author” and tells the story of his remarkable career.


6. Win or Learn – John Kavanagh (Penguin Ireland)

“MMA, Conor McGregor and Me – A Trainer’s Journey” – In this book, John Kavanagh tells his own remarkable life story which is at the heart of the story of the extraordinary explosion of MMA in Ireland and globally.

Growing up in Dublin, John Kavanagh was a skinny lad who was frequently bullied. After suffering a bad beating when he intervened to help someone who was being attacked, he decided he had to learn to defend himself.

Before long, John Kavanagh was training fighters in a tiny shed, and promoting the earliest mixed-martial arts events in Ireland. And then, a cocky kid called Conor McGregor walked into his gym and the rest is history…


What’s your best book of 2016?  Votes can be cast until midnight on  November 11 2016.  Vote now at Bord Gáis Energy Irish Book Awards 2016.


Sponsored by: Bord Gais

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