Belfast Telegraph

Paul Fitzpatrick fills important gap on the shelves with Fairytale in New York book

By Declan Bogue

Around about this time, there is the usual glut of celebrity sports autobiographies rushed out through the publishing houses in time for the Christmas rush, all intended as stocking fillers for the men in your life.

Funny enough, Jimmy Magee was on the wireless there last week promoting his latest book.

It follows on from the 2000 autobiography 'I Remember It Well', last year's 'Memory Man' and now 'Different Class'. Three autobiographies on Jimmy Magee; that's getting into Wayne Rooney territory.

Anyway, in the interview he took the opportunity to reassert some of his key beliefs that Michelle Smith is entirely innocent of some jiggery-pokery with urine samples.

He also believes that there is, as he terms it, a 'certain school of journalism' that exists to denigrate the reputation of the good sportsmen that he believed to be pure champions, such as Lance Armstrong.

Sure is Jimmy. Most people know it as good journalism.

Many womenfolk will see the face of Magee and instantly equate it with sports, therefore linking it by association to the menfolk in their life and then buying the book. This is a great pity and an opportunity missed.

Paul Fitzpatrick has just about managed to get his life back after months spent researching, stringing together and writing the magnificent 'Fairytale in New York: The Story of Cavan's Finest Hour'.

It details the organising, persuading, hosting and accomplishment of the 1947 All-Ireland football final being played at a long-forgotten venue in New York between Cavan and Kerry. Long-forgotten in New York I mean, but it will never be consigned to history in Cavan.

Within the pages we gain an incredible level of detail and insight into the GAA, the people of the time, and a historical grounding of New York and Irish sport. The tales of the likes of Willie Doonan, Owen Roe McGovern, John Wilson and Mick Higgins are brought to life as three-dimensional people.

You also will smile inwardly when you learn of votes at Congress mysteriously swinging from one way to another over night. The thought of players being handed wallets full of notes will also trouble the souls of some GAA puritans in these parts.

But what really raised a chuckle was how when the idea was mooted at Congress, 20 delegates spoke in favour. Two were vehemently opposed to the idea, the famous name of Ulster's Gerry Arthurs being one. Come matchday in New York, Gerry Arthurs is standing against a goalpost, doing umpire.

What this excellent read proves, quite apart from being enjoyable, is that the quirky, off-the-wall book on the GAA is still worth pursuing.

Once the tinsel is up and fake snow on the windows, the faces of famous rugby and soccer players line the bookshelves. If you are looking for a present to buy a loved one then you could do worse than getting a book.

But if you want that person to really love you back, then Fairytale In New York is your only option.

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