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27th Nov 2017

11 Books You Need To Buy For The Irish Sport Lover In Your Life This Christmas

James Fenton

The festive season provides us with the perfect opportunity at the end of a long year to unwind in our pjs and enjoy a good book. 

If you’ve got a sports-mad person in your life, there are plenty of Irish books on the market this year which they’ll only be delighted to find under the tree on December 25.

Whether they’re active members of the sporting community or just enjoy the motivational and inspirational tales that come with following sport, there’s something for everyone. 

Everything from soccer to rugby and even comedy is covered here so that sport lover in your life won’t be disappointed. 

Take your pick. 

1. Shay Given – ‘Any Given Saturday’ 

Arguably Ireland’s greatest ever goalkeeper, Shay Given has plenty of tales to tell from a lively career in the game. 

From losing his mother to cancer at an early age to making it big in England and minding the net at the 2002 World Cup in Japan and South Korea, Shay’s tale is an inspiring one. 

The 134-times capped goalie has been on the promotional trail in recent weeks sharing stories of some of his maddest team-mates so it’s bound to raise a few chuckles. 

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2. Colm Cooper – ‘Gooch: The Autobiography’

One of the greatest Gaelic footballers of his generation, the holder of five All-Ireland medals details how he overcame private tragedy to dominate the game in 2000s and beyond. 

Definitely one for the GAA fan in your life no matter what county they’re from.

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3. Jason Sherlock – ‘Jayo: My Autobiography’

“Boom, boom, boom, let me hear ya say “Jayo”…

Sherlock transcended the sport of GAA when he emerged as an iconic figure in the mid 1990s. From helping Dublin to the All-Ireland title in 1995 to the racism he experienced throughout his early life, ‘Jayo’ is a captivating read. 

Dubs will love this one.

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4. Jason McAteer – ‘Blood, Sweat And McAteer’

Once you get past the facepalm-inducing title, McAteer’s story is one of hard work and the pressures of fame. 

The cheeky chappie provides plenty of laughs as he tells of how he coped with being a pin-up boy in 1990s Ireland, even infuriating Take That by stealing all the attention from them at a Dublin concert. 

There’s a dark side too as the born and bred Scouser struggles to cope with retirement and sinks into depression. 

A must-read. 

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5. Rory O’Connor – ‘The Rory’s Stories Guide to the GAA’

The Meath funnyman has acheived fame through his gas takes on GAA and Irish life in general in his social media videos and now he’s documenting his thoughts and opinions in paper form. 

Should be good for a few laughs after Christmas dinner. 

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6. Brendan Rodgers – ‘The Road to Paradise: The Official Autobiography’

The story of how the Antrim man rose to become manager of Celtic where he has amassed four major trophies in his mere 18 months in charge. 

Follow how ‘The Brodge’ made his name at Swansea City before arriving at Liverpool and coming agonisingly close to guiding The Reds to their first league title in 24 years back in 2014. 

Any Celtic or Liverpool supporter will appreciate this one. 

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7. Kunak McGann – ‘Red Rover, Red Rover: Games From An Irish Childhood That You Can Teach Your Kids’

Okay, it’s not exactly a sport book but this is a great throwback to the games we used to play as kids which seem to have all but disappeared. Tip the can, anyone?

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8. Conor Curran – ‘Irish Soccer Migrants’ 

A fascinating read on how Irish footballers have helped to shape the sport in Britain and beyond.

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9. Kevin O’Neill – ‘Where Have All the Irish Gone? The Sad Demise of Ireland’s Once Relevant Footballers’

Back in the 80s and 90s, the Irish squad was littered with players who plied their trade at the top clubs in England such as Liverpool and Manchester United. Now, most Irish players are scraping together careers at middle-level clubs or lower. 

This is an investigative story of how and why it has gone so wrong for Irish footballers at the elite level of the English game since the inception of the Premier League. 

A good, nostalgic read for any Irish soccer fan. 

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10. Jackie Tyrell – ‘The Warrior’s Code’

Find out what motivates one of the most successful hurlers in history. Winner of nine All-Ireland titles, Tyrell provides some insight as to what makes Kilkenny such a hurling machine. 

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11. Paul O’Connell – ‘The Battle’ 

This one has been out for quite a while but remains a must-read for fans of rugby or sport in general.

‘The Battle’ follows O’Connell from his early days in Limerick, to Munster and Ireland’s glory years as well as multiple World Cup heartaches. 

Plenty of life lessons in this one. 

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