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Donaghy brings humour and pathos to a life less ordinary

By Declan Bogue

Published 09/11/2016

Story to tell: Kieran Donaghy
Story to tell: Kieran Donaghy

Over the last couple of weeks there were numerous stories and features about probably the darkest-ever GAA book, the Cathal McCarron autobiography 'Out of Control'.

If this forms part of your reading list, just as a balance you should add Kieran Donaghy's 'What Do You Think Of That?'

Donaghy made his name first as a basketball player, and was happy living the life of a barfly in The Greyhound in Tralee, before his cousin bullied him into turning out for the Austin Stacks third team.

In time, Donaghy had an enormous impact in Gaelic football, transferring his basketball skills onto a pitch and establishing himself as one of the key members of the Kerry dynasty of footballers.

Prior to his county retirement after defeat in this year's semi-final to Dublin, he remained the one player most capable of changing the course of a game in the blink of an eye.

The book itself is a lot like Donaghy - it breezes along, it's a lot of fun and it gives you plenty to chew on. It's also superbly ghosted by Kieran Shannon, who preserves Donaghy's voice and humour throughout the pages.

There is a passage that describes a team meeting, one of those in which people are permitted to get anything off the chest.

When Donaghy suggested they practise some 'scenarios' whereby one team in training is down by three points with 10 to go, it prompts a reaction from manager Jack O'Connor that is worth the price alone.

There is pathos too, with the separation of his parents. His father Oliver's desperate acts of simply grabbing a young Kieran out of his mother's house and driving him to his own home place of Tyrone, along with his bi-polar behaviour, makes this an examination of father-son relationships.

That's become a strong theme in GAA books, when you consider the longing in hurling autobiographies that Anthony Daly and, for different reasons, Liam Dunne had for their father. Anyway, check it out.

Belfast Telegraph

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