Belfast Telegraph

Hurling club story 'book of year'

The story of a small hurling club's ups and downs has been named sports book of the year, beating the autobiography of one of Ireland's greatest footballers.

Christy O'Connor's The Club relates a year in the life of grassroots GAA at St Joseph's Doora-Barefield in Co Clare, including tragic deaths and the harsh truths facing rural teams.

The book won the William Hill Irish Sports Book of the Year title ahead of former Irish international turned TV pundit John Giles for his life story, A Football Man.

Former goalkeeper O'Connor's work was praised as one of the finest ever GAA books.

"When I decided to write this book, I wanted to pay tribute to my daughter Roisin and former team-mate Ger Hoey, both of whom passed away in the space of a week," he said.

"I also wanted to portray the essence of what defines us in the St Joseph's Doora-Barefield club, which required me to be as honest as I possibly could be."

The author has been closely associated with St Joseph's for years having been the team goalkeeper and able to give first hand accounts of the fading club's attempts to revive past glories.

"I am absolutely thrilled and honoured to have won this award, particularly when you look at all the excellent sports books written this year," he said.

"It is also a privilege when you consider some of the outstanding books to have won the William Hill award in the past and I would like to take this opportunity to thank the judges and public for their votes."

The award is voted for by some of Ireland's top journalists, sports commentators and pundits. Previous winners include footballer Paul McGrath's life story Back from the Brink and retired rugby star Trevor Brennan's autobiography Heart and Soul.

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