LARRY RYAN: Join Corbett inside his head

It’s hard enough to sell a book. Personal tragedy, crippling addiction, news about sexuality, an exchange of riches for rags, or vice versa; all might be considered saleable assets at this commercially sensitive time.

With seemingly none of these staples to call on; hanging an autobiography around a disastrous tactical decision during an All-Ireland semi-final might well be the gambit that confounds even the finest publishing minds.

Follow that, Tommy Walsh.

You hope it works out for Lar Corbett, whose book All In My Head went on sale this week. If anything shamed us as a sporting nation this year — and we came close enough on a few other occasions — it was the rancour Lar endured after his role in the hurling season’s biggest talking point. Much of which came from his own people.

The Tactic — or The Figary as it is sometimes referred to in polite circles, The Eff-up in others — is dealt with summarily. Its genesis was Aussie Rules, though the suggestion from Sydney Giants forwards coach Stewart Edge that he “take the defender out of his comfort zone into a position he is most uncomfortable with” seems to have undergone a Pimp Your Gameplan refit before it evolved into the four-wheel drive monster unveiled in Croke Park.

It appears to be Lar’s own fatalism that drove the need for a ruse.

“I wasn’t going to be let hurl.”

Otherwise every rumour you heard afterwards is scotched. Everyone was on board with the idea. No row at half time. No fall-outs.

Just Kilkenny inside Tipperary’s heads. And Jackie Tyrrell in Lar’s.

In a way, what happened in August works neatly as a logical climax to the maelstrom of insecurities that Lar seems to have carried with him through his hurling career and life.

An unpretentious read, All In My Head doesn’t set its stall out as an inspirational tale, but there is something engaging about hearing how such a thrilling athlete can still be racked with introspection.

“God Almighty, you’re thinking a lot about it.” Declan Ryan’s words on the phone when the pair chewed over the 2011 final a couple of months afterwards, Lar still wondering why and how and what could be done to prevent it happening again.

Back in September, he had run through Thurles in the rain to get away from the homecoming at Semple, ashamed and disgusted. They took that badly at home too.

What has made Lar the contradiction he is, stripped the veneer of cockiness his talent might have given him? Lots of things, you imagine.

Not making it as a Tipp minor because — as Paudie Butler told him — he only had one side, a verdict he agrees with, but left him feeling an outsider when the call came later.

The hamstring years — limping off in despair to hear terrace loudmouths tell him: “It’s all in your effing head, Corbett.”

The ‘One-point Larry’ nickname he had earned midway through his Tipp career, which he attributes to Clinton Hennessy. “Thankfully, I’d upped my average before the 2011 Munster final.”

The scourge of unemployment, which has caused many a young man to bow his head when faced with the age-old inquiry; ‘What do you do yourself?’ “I was genuinely ashamed to say I did nothing.”

Nor was the dawn of fame in 2010 taken in his stride like the hat-trick that conceived it.

“Even people I’d known all my life seemed to be looking at me a little differently. It was just weird.”

Nicky English stands out as the man who might have instilled just enough belief to take Lar through more difficult times. Before Tipp’s first league outing in 2001, English met the rookie’s mother and told her Lar would be hurling in September if Tipp made it. Lads who think too much need carrot more than stick.

Not everyone appreciated that; not Babs, who takes a few harmless enough digs here, but Liam Sheedy and Eamon O’Shea did and Lar admits to crying when he heard of their decision to quit the Tipp job.

And when he mulled over reversing his own retirement last May, one message he received ought to give heart to Tipp followers hoping there’s another chapter yet to be written.

“You should just express yourself. Feel free about what you have to do because you have only a few years left.”

The message was delivered by O’Shea.

With the right man back in his head, you suspect Lar won’t be marking anyone next year.


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