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Fri 02-Sep-2005 0:15
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Aithníonn Ciaróg …
Aithníonn ciaróg ciaróg eile
is a dictum that has its place in the world of sport, not least in the realm of Gaelic games, writes An Fear Rua…
Essentially, it just means that ‘it takes one to know one’. Like the miners of Castlecomer, goalkeepers have always been a breed apart. A necessary evil, some would even say. So, it would be a brave man indeed who would posit a book around an extended attempt to see into and explain the minds of goalkeepers. Yet, this is exactly what Christy O’Connor has done. And because he is a distinguished goalkeeper himself, he has done so exceedingly well.
O’Brien Press has just published
‘Last Man Standing - Hurling Goalkeepers’
by Christy O’Connor. Christy is a freelance journalist based in Ennis, County Clare. He formerly worked as a sports correspondent in the Dublin newspaper industry and as a hurling goalkeeper played in two All-Ireland club hurling finals. He was a member of the Clare senior hurling panel for four years.
Goalkeepers walk a tightrope between triumph and disaster. The hurling goalkeeper must surely occupy the most precarious position on the pitch – glorified as a saviour if his team succeeds and damned if they fail. For this book Christy O’Connor has had unique and continuous access to twelve goalkeepers over one season resulting in an inside story never told before. The players talk frankly about the pressures, the disappointments and glories, the utter despair at being dropped from the team and the long road back to re-selection. The brotherhood of goalies forms a kind of inner club within the hurling community – here we are taken into its heart and spirit as never before.
The goalies include
Donal Óg Cusack (Cork); James McGarry (Kilkenny); Liam O’Donoghue (Galway); Brendan Cummins (Tipperary); Stevie Brenner (Waterford); Brian Mullins (Offaly); Timmy Houlihan (Limerick); Brendan McLoughlin (Dublin); Davy Fitzgerald (Clare); Graham Clarke (Down); DD Quinn (Antrim); Damien Fitzhenry (Wexford),
as well as a wealth of stories and anecdotes about famous past teams and players.
O’Connor had unique and continuous access to the top goalkeepers and tracked their experiences through highs and lows, the celebrations and the rejections, the saves and the misses. The respect he gained from his fellow goalkeepers allowed him to breach their inner sanctums of the brotherhood of goalies for the first time ever. The result is an exceedingly well-written, exciting and enjoyable book that ranks among one of the best ever written on Gaelic games.
As usual with O’Brien Press, the book is well produced and well designed. It costs €14.95 or 10.95 and runs to well over 300 pages in paperback, including a good photographic section.
One small irritant is a particular grammatical error, involving mistaking ‘who’ for ‘whom’ that occurs twice in the opening paragraph of the Acknowledgements. Still, don’t let that put you off. Insist on it as a present for Halloween or Christmas or buy it for yourself.
‘We talk just like lions, but we sacrifice like lambs…’.
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