It’s that time of the year again – Christmas is on the way, books are going to be big in demand and the An Post Irish Book Awards have rolled around.
The shortlists for this year’s awards were announced this week and for the Eason Sports Book of the Year, there’s six titles chasing gold.
While I’ve yet to tuck into some of these titles, expect them to be high on the shopping list for Christmas gifts this year for the sports lover in your life.
Crossing The Line
by Willie Anderson with Brendan Fanning
Irish rugby has produced many charismatic figures over its history. None more than Willie Anderson. Immortalised for his defiant stance in the face of the All Blacks’ Haka, the Ulsterman is notorious also for his time spent locked up by the military junta in Argentina for a prank gone wrong. But there is more to Willie Anderson than newspaper headlines. Crossing The Line is the story of a life challenged by sectarianism, alcohol addiction, and personal tragedy. It is the story of a triumph over adversity.
Willie has collaborated with Brendan Fanning on his autobiography. Brendan is the author of the critically acclaimed From There to Here – the definitive account of Ireland’s troubled journey from amateurism to professionalism. He has been involved in rugby all of his life as a player, coach and journalist. He has been rugby correspondent on the Sunday Independent since 1996.
by Aidan O’Mahony
Aidan O’Mahony was at peak physical fitness and making his mark on the Kerry Senior Football team when he made the devastating choice to walk away from it all.
Now, in his powerfully honest memoir, Aidan looks at the events leading up to this moment: the extreme pressure he put himself under as he strove for maximum physical strength, struggling with asthma that had plagued him since childhood; the on-pitch altercation that took a toll on his mental health; the controversy over a failed drug test and the intense media scrutiny he found himself facing.
And he tells of how, in the weeks that followed him quitting the game, he made a decision that would ultimately change everything.
As Aidan began to discover who he was and what was important to him, he returned to football with the same dedication and commitment he’d always had – but with a new mindset. He went on to achieve Championship and personal highs including taking part in and winning RTÉ’s Dancing with the Stars.
Unbroken is an account of the discipline it takes to be a part of one of the country’s most successful Gaelic football teams. It is also a story of managing external and internal expectations and pressure, and of the importance of knowing when to ask for help.
The Nation Holds Its Breath
by George Hamilton
‘David O’Leary is entrusted with the responsibility of taking the penalty that could send Ireland to the quarter-finals of the World Cup. This kick can decide it all. The nation holds its breath … Yes, we’re there!’
Written with his trademark warmth and candour, The Nation Holds Its Breath is George Hamilton’s eagerly awaited and wonderfully told journey through a rich and varied career in broadcasting.
As the undisputed voice of Irish football, George’s evocative and celebrated commentary is familiar to millions. He has captured the highs and lows of Irish sport for generations of fans, ever since he first took up the microphone in the mid-seventies, and he has been enthralling his audiences ever since.
To read George’s writing is to hear George’s voice and the reader will be captivated from the very first page, as he takes us on an affectionate journey from the Cregagh Road in East Belfast to an emotional farewell salute from Big Jack Charlton on the hallowed Anfield turf in 1995. The destinations – Stuttgart, Genoa, New Jersey – will be familiar, the journeys in between, anything but. A must-read memoir from one of Ireland’s truly undeniable national treasures.
Fight or Flight
by Keith Earls with Tommy Conlon
Keith Earls has become one of the most admired and respected players of his generation. A British & Irish Lion, he is still playing at the top of his game for Ireland and in the famous red of Munster. A lethal finisher blessed with a sprinter’s speed, Earls is the second-highest try scorer of all time for his country.
Yet, Earls has achieved these milestones whilst being racked by private battles with his mental health for most of his career. His natural talent brought him into the privileged bastion of elite rugby union and this honest, inspirational autobiography tells the story of his long struggle to reconcile those two worlds.
Fight Or Flight: My Life, My Choices is a confessional, intimate and courageous story of the pain that was a constant companion to the glory.
Keith Earls collaborated with Tommy Conlon on his autobiography. Conlon is a sportswriter with the Sunday Independent and the co-author of three previous autobiographies.
by Mickey Harte with Brendan Coffey
In a frenetic seven-year spell at the outset of his senior managerial career, Mickey Harte led Tyrone to four Ulster Championships and three All-Irelands. It was a run that shifted football’s balance of power, changed the way the game would be played for over a generation, and cemented his reputation as one of the most transformative figures in GAA history.
Then, in January 2011, the visitation of a shocking tragedy changed everything: Mickey’s daughter Michaela was murdered while on honeymoon in Mauritius, and the Harte family, grief-stricken, awoke to find themselves at the centre of an international news story.
Devotion, the product of a collaboration between Mickey and author Brendan Coffey, is many things. The story of a family’s decade-long struggle to come to terms with an almost unimaginable loss. A meditation on the ways in which faith, community, and sport can sustain us in our most difficult moments. And, finally, a portrait of one of Irish sport’s true icons, as he brings one legendary era to a close and steels himself for a final assault.
by Shane Carthy
From a young age, Shane Carthy had an amazing talent for sport.
He quickly rose through the ranks of Dublin football, playing on an All Ireland-winning team at the age of eighteen. In the midst of this success, he increasingly suffered from severe bouts of depression, hiding this from his family and all around him.
For two long years, as he triumphed on the football field, he suffered through constant mental turmoil. With searing honesty, he tells of his journey through deepest depression, leading him to become hospitalised at nineteen years old, and how he learned to overcome his troubles and to love life again.
Honest, powerful and inspirational, Dark Blue by Shane Carthy became a No1 Bestseller.
This year’s awards…
This year’s An Post Irish Book Awards are open for voting already and you can cast your vote here.
If you’ve picked up any of the books and made your way through them, drop us an email and let us know! The winner will be announced on 23 November with a special TV broadcast scheduled for 8 December celebrating all winning authors.