Henry Shefflin is well ahead at the top of the Irish sports book charts

All the latest sports book news, including a profile of Patrick McCarry’s book The New Breed – Irish Rugby’s Professional Era

Henry Shefflin is well ahead at the top of the Irish sports book charts

IRISH BESTSELLER LIST

1. The Autobiography by Henry Shefflin

Penguin Ireland

Sales: 1,387

2. My Story by Steven Gerrard

Penguin

Sales: 828

3. Leading by Alex Ferguson

Hodder & Stoughton

Sales: 419

4. Pulling the Strings by Peter Stringer

Penguin Ireland

Sales: 345

5. Last Line by Packie Bonner

Ebury Press

Sales: 142

Week ended October 3

WHAT’S IN THE BOOK?

The New Breed – Irish Rugby’s Professional Era by Patrick McCarry

Sell it in a tweet: The real story of Irish rugby’s transformation from pink-sinkers to world-beaters has arrived #TheNewBreed

What made you write it: In 2014, with retirements on the (not too distant) horizons for the likes of Paul O’Connell, Gordon D’Arcy and Peter Stringer, I set out with the idea of telling a story about the final years of the Golden Generation. The more research and interviews I did, however, convinced me that the first 20 years of the professional era – told by the players and coaches – was a fascinating tale.

When rugby went professional, I was a 15-year-old fan that was already tired of heroic defeats. Over the past 20 years, I have become a sports journalist but remain a fan who hates heroic defeats. Thankfully, they don’t happen too much any more.

Best line: A quote from David Wallace; “Ahead of the 1997/98 season, we were coming up with goals. ’Rags’ stood up. ’We want to win the European Cup.’ The place burst out laughing.”

Favourite story: My favourite chapter is all about the thrill, and pressure, of being a goal-kicker. It features interviews and insights from Johnny Sexton, Ronan O’Gara and Grenoble scrum-half James Hart. Ronan talks about almost wanting Munster to lose, when he was younger, rather than be faced with taking these last-minute kicks. Both Hart and Sexton relate similar stories and ones of demons that will never leave them. Still, all three wouldn’t have it any other way.

Who is the real hero: The players that are not born with a God-given talent but who make careers for themselves by pure slog and commitment. Guys like Bernard Jackman, Anthony Foley and, taking a modern player, Chris Henry. Rob Kearney does have that God-given talent but is a personable, humble bloke that is the personification of the modern, model pro.

Who comes out worst: The blazers in the IRFU, IRB and elsewhere, that made a hash of the switch from amateurism. Those that take a blasé approach to concussion and the heavy, heavy toll rugby is taking on players – young and not so young.

Book this is most like: It is strongly influenced by Donald McRae’s Winter Colours and Brendan Fanning’s From There to Here with some Hunter S Thompson and Roald Dahl touches.

Book this is least like: Moby Dick. That is a book I tried to read on a couple of different occasions before finally giving up. There is a whole chapter on what to do with whale blubber.

What will the book change your mind about: Just how much goes into taking a young, promising Irish lad and turning him into a world-class player.

By Patrick McCarry

MY FAVOURITE SPORTS BOOKS

With Ireland Rugby Sevens captain Tom Daly

No Limits by Michael Phelps

“It’s inspirational how professional he is and I found his insights into sports psychology really interesting.”

My Autobiography by Jonny Wilkinson

“He was my favourite sports star growing up so was probably one of my first autobiographies. I loved his attitude towards training and being a perfectionist. Another very interesting read and gives a real insight into the pressures of being a professional athlete.”

The Second Half by Roy Keane and Roddy Doyle

“I read this only recently and loved it. The man is a legend and just says it how it is. I found it quite funny at times and loved his honesty.”

UNDER THE RADAR

Trading Secrets by Rod Gilmour

Published by Pitch Publishing

Why? This year, the Sports and Fitness Industry Association (SFIA) selected squash among the 25 fastest growing sports.

In a nutshell: Tactics, preparation, tips and insight from the greats of squash.

Who’ll buy it: Anyone who has chased the blue dot around the walls while their opponent nonchalantly stands in the middle of the court, smirking. And probably those middle of the court smirkers too.

The controversy: Pakistan great Azam Khan, who has lived in the UK for over 50 years, reveals how his older brother, the late Hashim, let him win their British Open encounter in 1960. For decades, it has been rumoured that the Khan family hierarchy dictated who won matches, but it has never been confirmed - until now.

The comeback: Egypt’s Ramy Ashour, regarded by some as the finest ever racket sports player of all time, discusses his 2014 world title win after six months off court.

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