With Christmas Day fast approaching and very little to report from the playing fields I though it would be an opportune time to recommend a few stocking fillers for the GAA nut in your life.
A book is always a good stocking filler, if for no other reason that, not alone can you give it but you can always borrow it back to read it. Win, win I’d say.
There are plenty of good quality GAA books on our shelves this year. The pick of the books has to go to Christy O’Connor’s The Club. This year’s winner of the William Hill Irish sports book of the year follows O’Connor’s exploits as goalkeeper for his club Doora-Barefield in 2009 as they try to relive past glories spurred on by personal losses and tragedy. O’Connor, brother of Clare legend Jamesie and a journalist with the Sunday Times, gives a vivid and frank portrayal of the importance of the GAA in his community in all its facets. He outlines the important role it played at a time when he lost not only his daughter but a team-mate in the one week. You won’t get a better insight into the working of the GAA, on and off the field, at grass-roots level than this.
Liam Hayes who featured a while back on The Late Late Show has brought out a re-issue of Out Of Our Skins first published in the 1990s. This updated version of one of the best sports autobiographies ever written, also documents events over the past 20 years in the author’s life, including his battle with cancer. A must read.
Darragh - My Story by Darragh O’Se is another book I’m looking forward to reading over the holiday period. Even though I hear he doesn’t ruffle too many feathers it should be a good read for anyone with an interest in football. Another autobiography on the shelves this Christmas is Dan Shanahan’s If you don’t know me, don’t judge me. The 2007 hurler of the year and three time all-star is something of a cult hero and an interesting character. His book is bound to be popular even outside of Waterford hurling circles.
Voices from Croke Park contains interviews from 12 former greats from hurling and football talking about their experiences. Peter Canavan, Noel Lane, and DJ Carey provide the most interesting extracts. All profits from this book go to the Players Benevolent Fund which looks after former players who have fallen on hard times.
Brian Carthy as always has published his comprehensive account of this year’s action in The Championship - 2010. It provides the definitive account of every single match in this year’s championship up to and including Cork’s and Tipperary’s long awaited All-Ireland wins.
A Season Of Sundays which gives a look back at this year’s action in photographs is also something of a collecters item and is worthy of inclusion.
Other possible books worth looking at are Screaming at the Sky, in which Clare hurler Tony Griffin talks about the cycling journey he embarked on a few years ago. Dan McCartan has also brought out The King Of Down Football to coincide with the 50th anniversary of Down’s historic first ever All-Ireland win in 1960.
There are also a number of DVDs available, including ones featuring full coverage from selected matches in this year’s championship.
Retro GAA is an online website where old/retro jerseys can be sourced. A quirky but popular present. Who will ever forget our famous Greville Arms jerseys?
A sensible and worthwhile present is a season ticket which costs €75 (€10 for juveniles ) and is available on line. These are county specific and code specific so you need one for hurling and one for football if you are feeling that generous. It provides entry to the stand at all of your county’s league round games and entry to the first championship game. Then pay and play will kick in which means you will be automatically charged in advance for any subsequent championship match, whether or not you attend. The holder will be charged the adult stand ticket price less €5 bar the provincial and All-Ireland final where the normal full price will apply.
If like me you find Christmas shopping as appealing as a visit to the dentist, some of the items above might be a help. Have a very happy Christmas!