Writing the book on exhaustion

Ahem. I have a new book out. My relentless quest for publicity is in full swing — check out @gaaconomics on Twitter — and I am afraid you are going to have to listen to me here.

Although there is a great sense of accomplishment in finishing a book (anyone can start a book, and plenty of people do) there is also a sense of exhaustion, and a determination that everybody else should at least know about that exhaustion, whatever about the subject matter of the book.

It is called GAAconomics: The Secret Life of Money in the GAA and it explores the relationship between an organisation that is almost entirely amateur and its need to generate money to fulfil its obligations and mission.

It’s funny that once you write something with a hint of economics in its title you begin to see it everywhere, of course. When I discussed the idea of the book with the publisher — the incomparable Fergal Tobin of Gill and MacMillan — I had a fuzzy notion of numbers and statistics and funding in the GAA, a kind of super-vague notion of how the need for accurate definitions of shots going wide in hurling would be tied in with the match receipts.

Stop, said the wise man. This is a book about money in the GAA. Write that. He was correct, of course, which is economics in its own way. It was an enjoyable journey, talking to people about the GAA in a way that many of them had never done before, and some of those who have read the book have been surprised the GAA itself was so co-operative. I wasn’t, I have to say.

One of the points I took away from the experience was the professionalism in all sectors of the GAA, which shouldn’t be a shock to anyone who has seen Croke Park up close: any organisation which can create a stadium like that will be well aware that pulling down the shutters is counter-productive.

It would be interesting to write a similar book about Irish sport as a whole, though I’m sure a publisher would say that such a venture would be, by definition, a little too broad in its approach.

Still, there is an opening there for anyone with a mind to flick through a few balance sheets: comparing sports like rugby and horse racing with niche activities like windsurfing would be an entertaining way to while away your free time for the next 12 months. Feel free to take it on, I won’t be doing it.

I’m still catching up on my sleep, and re-introducing myself to the kids. But it was worth it: if you don’t agree then get in touch and I’ll give you a free lecture on economics and sport and convince you otherwise: I’ll just be doing it in about three years’ time, when I’ve fully recovered.

Buy Michael Moynihan's GAAconomics here

Anything goes on Croker trail

Snapshots from the journey to Dublin Saturday morning.

The queue of traffic out of the Jack Lynch Tunnel before ten o’clock in the morning.

The queue-jumping and shaking fists at the tolls.

Those kids in the back of the Volvo, waving at everyone they passed and looking for a beep as they did.

Passing people you knew and giving them a wave, with them giving you the salute when they cruised past later.

That giant white van with the Cork flags, weaving in and out of the traffic.

The temptation of that turn-off at Cashel, with the McDonald’s sign winking at you, and suggesting you’ll be late up anyway, why not get some hot food into you . . . but no: on you go.

The temptation of the radio, the slow advance of the news bulletins, the whimper of the presenters – was it Anthony Burgess who called radio D Js ‘wriggling ponces of the spoken word – and the occasional burst of gold through the speakers (Dean Martin with You’re Nobody ’Til Somebody Loves You).

The phone call you have to ignore until you get to the toll and you can get the message, somebody saying you don’t have to ring them it’s all right I’ll see you in Dublin sure you’re probably on the motorway now anyway . . .

That hold-up outside Portlaoise, with the cars bumper to bumper for miles: the weighing of possibilities, the fast lane versus the slow lane.

The beeping at the idiot going up the hard shoulder; the laughing when the Gardaí swung out to follow him.

The occasional foreign-reg car with a driver frowning, bemused by the traffic, as he tootled along to Dublin Airport.

The crackpots in those open cars in the Clare colours speeding down the slow lane as you got to the Green Isle, waving their flags with one hand and holding on extra-tight to the roof with the other.

Dublin. The match.

007 the perfect number for me

He’s back.

It wasn’t all about the All-Ireland final this weekend. There is a good deal of publicity about the forthcoming James Bond novel.

Yes, you are aware, no doubt, that Ian Fleming, the creator of Bond, is deceased lo these many years, but that has not stopped various authors, including Kingsley Amis, a favourite of this column, from trying their hand at Bond novels.

It’s hard to resist (“Bond lit his Balkan Sobranie and drank the black coffee until his throat burned. He smoothed out the double cuffs on his dress shirt until the spatter of brain matter from the SMERSH agent was barely visible...”

Sorry, got a bit carried away there.

William Boyd is the latest, and it was interesting to see in a witty profile he wrote of Bond, that Ben Hogan was one of the spy’s all-time fantasy dinner guests.

I can forgive Bond his lapse — surely he was an Arnold Palmer man, given his place in the consciousness — but that’s because I can forgive 007 anything.

What other attitude could you have towards him?

Leave losers to their own solace

I know people want to pay tribute, to thank their players for giving them a great summer, but is it time to put an end to the welcome home for defeated All-Ireland finalists?

If you have been privy to one such event you have no real hunger to see another. Players in the depths of misery smiling wanly and waving at people they know; the supporters dreaming of what might have been as they applaud dutifully; the brave promises about next year and how everything will be different.

I accept that preparations have to be put in place for a victory reception, but this parading of players who would rather be anywhere else in the universe . . . time to abandon the open truck bed and let them take their solace where they wish.

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