Sports books to get you through the time inside the house

With so many people spending more time inside over the past few weeks and for weeks to come, now is a great time to get some reading done and there are a number of great sports books out there - many of them with a Mayo twist - that you can get your teeth stuck into - as well as some others from around the world of sport worth getting stuck into.

House of Pain - Through the rooms of Mayo Football

Irish Times journalist Keith Duggan's book first hit the shelves in 2007 and while Mayo have had a massive upward trajectory on the football field since then, the ultimate prize still has escaped them. Duggan traces the history of Mayo's quest to win the All Ireland title from 1951 right up to the mid 2000s. Duggan's book is packed full of great stories of potential, heartbreak on and off the field and is a must-read for Mayo fans.

The Road to 51- The Making of Mayo Football

James Laffey's in depth opus traces the story of Mayo’s footballing history from the county’s first appearance in a senior All-Ireland final in December 1916 up to when we won our third – and still most recent – All-Ireland title in 1951. In that dizzying 35-year period, Mayo won three All-Irelands, eight National Leagues and 18 provincial titles, in what truly was a Golden Era for the county. This book is not only an examination of the football in that time, but also the social history of the county during the time.

Cora Staunton - Game Changer

One name is synonymous with ladies football in Ireland and that is Cora Staunton. The Mayo woman is not only one of the highest profile female sports people in the country, but is one of the biggest names in sport across both genders. Her autobioghraphy was the first ever of a female GAA star and she brings you on her journey from teenage prodigy through losing her mother, seeking refuge in the game and through her glittering career on the field for Mayo, Carnacon and onto playing Australian Women's Football.

Will Galway beat Mayo? - How a 1960s GAA rivalry reawakened the West

This is another book by James Laffey and is an absorbing and multi-layered narrative by the award-winning author, which goes beyond the football fields to chronicle a fascinating sporting story in the context of an era of sweeping change. Ballrooms, carnivals, black and white television, Austin A40 cars, JFK in Galway… it’s all here in this entertaining account of a magical decade when the West suddenly found its voice. At the heart of that reawakening was one of the oldest rivalries in the GAA, a gripping power struggle between neighbours that left everyone asking the same question in the summer of 1966: Will Galway Beat Mayo?

The green above the red - A compilation of Mayo's Greatest Triumphs

This one might be hard to find, but is probably on the shelves of many Mayo GAA supporters. Written by Terry Reilly and Ivan Neill, it was first published in 1985, and it chronicles the highs and lows of Mayo football up to that time. It includes a history of early Mayo football, a chronicle of 1925, 'The Year of Controversy', the county's greatest triumphs in 1936, 1950 and 1951 as well as details on schools football, the minors, overseas tours by the county players and the 1985 All Ireland semi final matches against Dublin.

One Sunday - A day in the life of the Mayo Football Team

Conor Mortimer was one of the most recognisable and top level forwards during the 2000s for Mayo. He is the all-time leading scorer for the county and in this autobiography, the Shurle-Glencorrib native uses the 2006 All Ireland football final loss to Kerry as the thread to bring his story together in a frank way.

Hanging from the Rafters - The Story of Neptune and the Golden Age of Irish Basketball

Journalist and sports psychologist, Kieran Shannon, is well known to Mayo GAA supporters for his work, both as an writer and his work with the Mayo GAA senior team during James Horan's first stint in charge of the senior team. This labour of love takes an in-depth look at the heyday of the Irish basketball scene, when halls and small centres across the country were packed every weekend to see the local greats and some brilliant American imports take to the skies with their silky skills. Killala was once a hot bed of such action, where Ballina teams took on and beat the best on some memorable nights - this brilliant book brings back the memories of the great days of that time.

The Best American Sports Writing of the Century

We may be 20 years into the new century and this book was first published in 1999, but for any lover of great sports writing, this is a must-have. Spanning almost 1000 pages, it will take you on a journey through the biggest names and some people you have never heard of, with writers like Jimmy Cannon, Red Smith, William Mack, Gary Smith, and Frank Deford to A. J. Liebling, Tom Wolfe, and Hunter S. Thompson all featuring. The series also has a yearly edition - well worth checking out if you like this.

Friday Night Lights

You might have seen the movie or the TV show (well worth binging on too ) - but this is where it all started. HG Bissinger's tale of small town Texas and how football is the be-all-and-end-all is as much a social study as it is about football. Bissinger spent a season in Odessa, discovering just what makes a town pin its hopes on eleven boys on a football field. He lived with the students, coaches and townspeople who dedicate their lives to their team, sharing their joys and triumphs, their pains, injuries and bitter disappointments. He returned with a compassionate but hard-eyed story of a town riven by money, race and class, where a high school can spend more on medical supplies for its athletic program than on its English department.

In Sunshine or in Shadow: How boxing brought hope in the troubles

Donald McRea is one of the finest interviewers around - you can find his work regularly in The Guardian and his books on boxing are real labours of love. In Sunshine or in Shadow, he tells the story of Gerry Storey who ran the Holy Family gym from the IRA's heartland territory of New Lodge in Belfast. Despite coming from a family steeped in the Republican movement, he insisted that it would be open to all. He ensured that his boxers were given a free pass by paramilitary forces on both Republican and Loyalist sides, so they could find a way out of the province's desperate situation. In the immediate aftermath of the 1981 Hunger Strikes, Storey would also visit the Maze prison twice a week to train the inmates from each community, separately. Another great McRea boxing book to check out is A Man's World: The Double Life of Emile Griffith.

Sport and Ireland: A History

Paul Rouse has become a familiar voice on radio over the past number of years and the UCD Professor at the School of History has also briefly managed the Offaly football team. Rouse has written a number of books but this is a great one to delve into to see the history of sport in Ireland and the cultural changes that saw some sports thrive and others fade away.


Andre Agassi was one of the great players of tennis - and in his brutally honest autobiography, he brings you right into his own past - from starting off as a kid who hated tennis to becoming one of the world's biggest stars, right up to the pain and suffering he physically went through to get himself ready for a game at the latter end of his career - and all that went on in between. It's a tough but worthwhile read for any sports fan.

Rough Ride - Behind the Wheel with a Pro Cyclist

He may be better known now as journalist, but in his youth, Paul Kimmage was a pro-cyclist and in Rough Ride, he takes us on a journey from his love of cycling as a youth, through the life of a domestique on a pro team - and of course on to the drug culture in the sport. It is brutally honest and an engrossing read.


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