The closing chapter on sports books of the year

Niall Kelly and Philly McMahon with McMahon's autobiography The Choice

If you’re following the Irish sports books scene any bit closely, then its award season has probably left you feeling a tad confused, as it has us. One appears to favour Black Panther, the other, a Moonlight, with little apparent sentiment or room for a La La Land.

If you were to set out to win the Bord Gáis award, which was presented to Cora Staunton with her appropriately-titled Gamechanger last Wednesday, then an autobiography would appear the obvious — indeed only — way to go. Only one of the six nominated books — Paul Rouse’s terrific The Hurlers — wasn’t a ghosted effort as Davy Fitzgerald, Sean Cavanagh, Andy Lee, and Rosemary Smith were in the house along with Cora.

In fact only once since the scheme was established in 2007 as part of the Irish Book Awards has the category’s winner been a non-autobiography, that exception being David Walsh’s account of his pursuit of Lance Armstrong and the Texan’s Seven Deadly Sins.

Yet the very next day after collecting the award at the big gala night in the Burlo — or the Clayton Hotel Burlington Road as it’s now officially known — Staunton, like four of her fellow Bord Gáis nominees, hadn’t even been shortlisted for the eir Sport book of the year.

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