Friday 4 December 2009

Irish Sports Book of the Year

Come What May by Dónal Óg CusackDónal Óg Cusack's autobiography Come What May has won the Irish Sports Book of the Year Award for 2009. Written with journalist Tom Humphries, the book details Cusack's life from his upbringing in Cork through his three All-Ireland successes, his role in some of the most groundbreaking decisions in Gaelic Games history and his struggles to be true to himself.

Six books were shortlisted for the award. As the GAA celebrates its 125th anniversary this year, there were two other Gaelic Games themed books on the shortlist: Mickey Harte’s autobiography, Harte: Presence is the Only Thing and Damian Lawlor’s tale of a year with the Waterford footballers, Working on a Dream. In what was a memorable year for Irish rugby, two books from this genre have also made the shortlist. Eddie O’Sullivan’s autobiography, Never Die Wondering was listed in the top six as was Alan English’s detailing of Ireland’s historic Grand Slam victory, Grand Slam: How Ireland Achieved Rugby Greatness. The final book in contention for this year’s award was Kieran Shannon’s detailed account of the golden age of basketball in Ireland in the 1980s, Hanging from the Rafters. Tony Kenny, PR Manager for William Hill, believes Come What May is a worthy winner of this year's award. "The quality of the award this year was outstanding, especially when you look at some of the books that didn't even make the shortlist. Donal Óg's book is an excellently told story of a person with a huge dedication to their sport and someone who wasn't afraid to put themselves forward as a role model to many in sport and life not just in Ireland but across the world," Kenny said at the presentation. This year's judging panel is made up of ten of Ireland's best sports commentators and experts. The panel includes RTE rugby pundit and Newstalk presenter George Hook, RTE's Eamon Dunphy, Today FM and TV3 presenter Matt Cooper and Setanta Sports' Paul Dempsey.

The Irish Sports Book of the Year award was established in 2006 to celebrate the quality of Irish sports writing and the standard of sports books that are produced in Ireland every year. The winner of the inaugural award was Paul McGrath with his harrowing tale of the ups and downs of his professional football career in Back from the Brink, which was written with Vincent Hogan. In 2007, Trevor Brennan's autobiography with Gerry Thornley, Heart and Soul detailed Brennan's journey through the professional rugby ranks in Ireland and France and his infamous altercation with a fan, which led to the end of his successful career. In 2008 the award produced one of the greatest Irish sports story's never told. Tommy Byrne's Crashed and Byrned was the story of an Irish racing driver hailed as one of the world's greatest, even better than World champion Ayrton Senna, but was never given a chance by the key figures in the sport. More information on the award can be found at

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