Book gets to the heart of the GAA experience

Grassroots: The Second Half is a goldmine of GAA tales spanning over 150 years, following the publication of a successful first volume last year.
Book gets to the heart of the GAA experience

Grassroots author PJ Cunningham says the second edition of his book, available now nationwide, provides snapshots into the history of the GAA across every county, recounted by the people at the heart of the action.

A NEW GAA book written by those at the heart of the sport features nine stories about the GAA in Cork.

Grassroots: The Second Half is a goldmine of GAA tales spanning over 150 years, following the publication of a successful first volume last year.

Editor PJ Cunningham, who collaborated with Croke Park on both publications, said: “The GAA and I were astounded by the response to the first edition. This collection is slightly different to the first, in that as well as having the usual stories from the deep roots of rural society, there are also numerous stories where people from other sports and walks of life talk of their GAA experiences.”

Former Irish rugby international Ollie Campbell, ex-snooker world champion Ken Doherty, and Vienna-based opera singer Tom Birch all explain how they became big fans of Gaelic games.

“Virtually no subject escapes in the 400 pages, with tales of a parish priest’s curse, referees officiating with watches which didn’t work, to players taking ‘leaks’ on the field of play,” said Mr Cunningham.

“All human life is in there, whether it is going to and from matches or, in one case, the story where a Kilkenny fan got locked into a well-known Dublin pub while his team won the All-Ireland hurling final a mile away in Croke Park.

“This book provides snapshots into the history of the GAA, recounted by the people at the heart of the action, whether those stories are happy or sad, sensational or ordinary.”

Cork stories span the Rebel GAA kaleidoscope, with special focus on the collection of data, especially Christy Ring memorabilia, assembled by Ballynoe native Denis O’Sullivan.

Kinsale man Dermot Collins recalls a day when he wilfully bent the rules as a referee to preserve a Cork football star’s All Star award, while among the other contributions are Mike Monaghan’s fascinating tale about a ‘windy day in Doneraile’, and John Arnold’s account of county rivalry between Cork and Waterford.

GAA president Larry McCarthy said the book highlighted “the value of the folklore and stories built up around our games”.

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