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# Have your say
Who should win Irish Sports Book of the Year? Our writers have their say
The winner for the annual event will be announced on Wednesday evening, with Roy Keane and BOD among the nominees.

Fields of Fire by Damian Lawlor (Transworld Ireland)

Domhnall O'Donovan is congratulated by Brendan Bulger Cathal Noonan / INPHO Cathal Noonan / INPHO / INPHO

(Clare’s Domhnall O’Donovan is congratulated by Brendan Bulger and Patrick O’Connor after scoring the equalising point in the 2013 All-Ireland SHC final)  


That was the shriek from Marty Morrissey when Domhnall O’Donovan hit the point that saved Clare in last year’s All-Ireland final. It was the precursor for the replay when Shane O’Donnell bagged a hat-trick and the Banner rejoiced after a glorious year for hurling in their county and nationwide.

2013 was a hurling season that captured the imagination and that was the backdrop for the publication of Fields Of Fire last May by journalist Damian Lawlor. It’s a book that examines the narrative in hurling, which saw Kilkenny stitch together an incredible run of success in landing six All-Ireland titles in seven years, before other counties rose to meet their standards and challenge them.

There’s plenty to enjoy here. The opening chapters offer a brilliant insight into a Kilkenny team that have been inscrutable at times over the years. Eddie Brennan, ‘Cha’ Fitzpatrick and John Power provide us with a view inside the Kilkenny dressing-room and how Brian Cody has presided over such a run of glory.

Check out as well John Meyler on life with a lesser light like Carlow, Davy Fitzgerald on masterminding Clare’s triumph and John Mullane on trying to pass Davy’s Waterford tests when his ‘wee was orange, like the contents of a bottle of Lucozade’.

It’s just under a decade since the publication of Denis Walsh’s seminal hurling book The Revolution Years. Now Fields Of Fire provides a great recollection of what’s happened since.

- Fintan O’Toole

The Second Half by Roy Keane with Roddy Doyle (Orion)

Roddy Doyle and Roy Keane with his new book 'The Second Half' James Crombie / INPHO James Crombie / INPHO / INPHO

(Roddy Doyle and Roy Keane with his book The Second Half)

One could be forgiven for believing they had as good as read Roy Keane’s latest autobiography without even opening the book.

Three days before The Second Half was even released, it had been leaked in sections of the media as the result of a now infamous tale involving a Tesco supermarket in Burnage, Greater Manchester.

The hardcore Keane fans will have lapped up the press conferences, the Q&A evening at the RDS and the huge amount of coverage afforded to the former Ireland captain in general. For many others, the circus surrounding Ireland’s assistant manager over the past two months will have undoubtedly become tiresome.

Whatever your thoughts on one of the most divisive figures Irish sport has ever seen, the latest installment, ghost-written by Roddy Doyle, deserves your attention.

It begins with his account of the FA trial after that tackle on Alf-Inge Haaland and recalls plenty of headline-grabbing tales like his bust-up with Peter Schmeichel and the acrimonious departure from Manchester United in 2005.

Red mist moments aside, however, the most fascinating parts of the book deal with Keane’s lack of self-worth and moments of vulnerability, especially during those unemployed days post-retirement when he shuddered at the prospect of a future “playing football with f****** JLS” on the legends circuit.

- Ben Blake

A Different Shade of Green by Alan McLoughlin (Ballpoint Press)

Alan McLoughlin 17/11/1993 INPHO INPHO

(Alan McLoughlin celebrates his famous goal against Northern Ireland in 1993)

Niall Quinn put it succinctly at the recent launch of A Different Shade of Green by Alan McLoughlin. Quinn, a former international teammate of McLoughlin’s, spoke of how the ex-Portsmouth player’s new book “stops you in your tracks”.

At just over 200 pages, the book — written in conjunction with the historian Bryce Evans — is what Sum 41 might refer to as ‘all killer and no filler’. There are plenty of amusing anecdotes (some of which have appeared on about Roy Keane, Jack Charlton and many of the other colourful characters McLoughlin came across during his years in the Ireland team and amid the football world in general.

Yet for all its entertainment value, the final chapters in particular lend the narrative a level of depth that is seldom associated with sports autobiographies. McLoughlin’s poignant reflections on his cancer struggles will inevitably stop readers in their tracks, as well as giving invaluable insight and hope to anyone who has ever been affected in any way by the disease.

- Paul Fennessy

The Race to Truth by Emma O’Reilly (Bantam)

Cycling - Tour De France - Stage Five -  Lance Armstrong Masseur - Bonneval - Amiens Michel Spingler Michel Spingler

(Team masseur Emma O’Reilly tends to team leader Lance Armstrong, whose only a leg is seen, after the fifth stage of the Tour de France in 1999)

It takes a great deal of humility to apologise. Sometimes though, it takes even more to fully accept that apology. Throughout The Race to Truth, you find yourself constantly asking yourself “in Emma O’Reilly’s shoes, could I have found it in me to forgive a man who called me an ‘alcoholic’ and a ‘whore’?”

There’s no easy answer to that question but you get the sense from early in the book that O’Reilly’s is a personality forged in the heart of Lance Armstrong and the Tour de France’s star power, and is all the stronger for it.

With a foreward from the cheater-in-chief himself, the revelations of doping, the blatant disregard cyclists have for not just fairness and integrity in the sport, but also for their own bodies and long-term health, should be shocking but are so commonplace now that they barely warrant a raised eyebrow.

More surprising is her treatment at the hands of David Walsh and the feelings of ill-will the Dubliner still harbours toward the journalist. Proof, if ever it was needed, that all is not black and white in the world of doping.

- Steven O’Rourke

The Test by Brian O’Driscoll (Penguin Ireland)

Brian O'Driscoll with a copy of his new book The Test Steve Langan / INPHO Steve Langan / INPHO / INPHO

(Ireland & Leinster rugby legend Brian O’Driscoll with a copy of his new book The Test)

He’s one of Ireland’s most revered and recognisable sportsmen, so chances are you’ve already heard quite a bit about Brian O’Driscoll’s autobiography The Test and made a decision about whether or not you’ll read it.

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There was no escaping the reviews either, but it felt like circumstances surround the book fed in to the disappointed reception.

For one, Roy Keane had unleashed a great big dirty bomb of a book the week before. Secondly, the nation was promised a Paul Kimmage book and all the dark depths that would come with it. When that fell through the material was only going to be a shade or two lighter.

If you are in to sports biographies, you will be right at home in the book written by Alan English. While we all complained that some aspects merely scratched the surface of O’Driscoll’s character and never betrayed the sanctity of the dressing room, that very much feels like the subject’s choice.

No book could ever deliver everything we want to know about Ireland’s most sough-after sportsman. Yet The Test still manages to walk the line and whether you’re keen on sports psychology, how things work inside the Ireland camp or even Drico’s sleeping habits, then there’s more than enough to keep you turning the page and wanting more.

- Sean Farrell

Dalo: The Autobiography of Anthony Daly by Anthony Daly (Transworld Ireland)

Anthony Daly Cathal Noonan / INPHO Cathal Noonan / INPHO / INPHO

(Former Dublin manager Anthony Daly pictured during the All-Ireland SHC quarter-final earlier this year)

Next year will be the 20th anniversary of a momentous year for Clare hurling. They collected Munster and All-Ireland titles, their rise to sporting stardom catching the imagination of the country.

Anthony Daly was their captain, a defensive totem who delivered the rousing speeches to capture the mood generated by their successes. Now he’s penned the story of his life in Dalo, the autobiography that details the multitude of events he’s packed into his life in the intervening two decades.

There’s tales of his playing days with Clare, managerial days with Clare and the days presiding over the fortunes of Dublin that concluded in September.

That’s the stuff on the field but there’s a lot off the field that Daly explores as well. The tragedy of his father dying when he was young and his older brother passing away in 1998. In recent years, his wife Eilis has had a cancer scare and his daughter Orlaith has also been ill, but thankfully the health of both of those has improved.

Daly’s unflinching honesty and positivity shines through and it all adds up to a revealing portrait of one of the most engaging characters in Irish sport. Daly has collaborated here with his ghostwriter Christy O’Connor, his former Clare teammate and the Dublin goalkeeping coach last year. O’Connor has previously written the brilliant Last Man Standing and The Club, and his input helps produce a book that stands out in a year heavily populated by Irish sporting autobiographies.

- Fintan O’Toole*

*If Fields of Fire doesn’t win

What do you think? Who should win Irish Sports Book of the Year?

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