Believe it... Cork GAA fans will love new books featuring two Rebel legends

Believe it... Cork GAA fans will love new books featuring two Rebel legends

At Pairc Uí Chaoimh swapping the famous All-Ireland trophies are Cork captains Tomás Mulcahy and Larry Tompkins. Picture: Brian Lougheed

IF you’ll forgive the self-promotion, today sees a press conference held to launch Believe, the autobiography of Larry Tompkins, on which your correspondent worked as ghost-writer.

Instead of trying to gauchely big up the book, I’ll let the extract which appears this Friday as part of the 1990 double celebrations try to speak for itself. As said previously, the fact that the Kildare native’s career stands on its own feet and doesn’t need a major life event or trauma to drive it was a big factor in agreeing to be involved in the project and Larry was a dream to work with.

From just over a year ago, the sessions with him above his bar on Lavitt’s Quay on a Monday morning were a great way to start the week and researching his career helped to relive the glory days and those that weren’t as successful but which helped to contribute to the overall picture.

Thankfully, there were more good times than bad and what shone through throughout was his irrepressible drive to make himself the absolute best that he could. I was just lucky to be the one asked to transfer his memories to paper and I hope that I managed to do that in an authentic fashion.

As well as Larry, I am indebted to former Meath footballer Liam Hayes, whose publishing house Hero Books has made the life story a reality. 

Larry's new book.
Larry's new book.

It’s a busy time for Hero as they are producing a number of offerings this autumn and those of a Cork GAA bent will also enjoy Everything: The Denis Coughlan Autobiography.

In many ways, Larry’s book is overdue as, apart from Teddy McCarthy, no other member of the 1990 double sides has brought out an autobiography. Bar Billy Morgan, the stars of further back are even more under-represented on the literary front and so Coughlan’s book is definitely righting a historical wrong.

At a time when we’d take one All-Ireland senior title in either code with both hands, the Glen Rovers man boasts five medals, four hurling and one football, having represented his county at senior across a 15-year period from 1965-74 in football and 1968-80 in hurling. Throw in four All-Star hurling awards and the Texaco Hurler of The Year Award for 1977 and it’s clear that this was a giant of the game. Throw in two years as Cork senior football manager before Morgan, blooding players who would go on to enjoy successful careers, as well as Munster titles as minor and U21 hurling boss, and his legacy only strengthens.

Coughlan is lucky that the man he collaborated with, Tadhg Coakley, is a knight of the keyboard, as well as being a fine hurler in his day, winning an All-Ireland minor medal with Cork in 1979 and later helping UCC to four Fitzgibbon Cup titles. The fact that he is a writer, rather than a journalist, sure to lend the book a fresh perspective that is perhaps sometimes lacking in autobiographies.

The book is available at the start of October and it’s one I will definitely be purchasing and would highly recommend.

Denis Coughlan in action.
Denis Coughlan in action.


And, if you’re short on something to read between now and then, Coakley’s newly published novel Whatever It Takes also gets the thumbs-up.

His first novel, The First Sunday in September, came out in the autumn of 2018 and was a series of intertwined short stories centring around an All-Ireland hurling final between Cork and Clare.

While the sporting angle isn’t as strong in this one, the protagonist, Tim Collins (though he prefers plain ‘Collins’) is a detective in Anglesea St who won three All-Ireland medals with Cork – the alternate reality where Cork were successful in the 1990s is certainly one we would have preferred to the actual occurrences.

It’s rare to find a book nowadays that is genuinely difficult to put down but the pace of this means that it is one, helped of course by the portrayal of Cork and the characters that are unique but also instantly recognisable, such is the realism.

The book is a credit to Tadhg Coakley and no doubt Denis Coughlan’s will be the same.

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