Recent Publications - 2012
All In My Head: The Autobiography by Lar Corbett will probably create greater interest than any other G.A.A. publication in 2012. Whatever we may say about the player Lar is a national figure and attracts more media attention than any other player in the county. What other Tipperary player gets to appear on the Late Late Show? Side by side with this universal interest is a high level of irritation with the player from Thurles Sarsfields and Tipperary supporters because of his failure to deliver the kind of performances expected of him on key hurling days. It would appear as if this irritation extends to envy at the amount of publicity he garners if we are to interpret the failure of his hurling colleagues on the county team, with the exception of Thurles Sarsfields players, to turn up for the launch of his book in his bar at Thurles on November 1.
All in my Head attemps to explain Lar's side of things and the book does a good job. Lar tells a fine personalised story of getting on the Tipp team and winning the 2001 All-Ireland. He has a great time for Nicky English and his man-management skills. His remarks about English, and later on his huge admiration for Liam Sheedy, Eamon O'Shea and Michael Ryan, tells us a lot about the man. Lar was and is very close to his mother and she has always been his greatest supporter and mentor. The type of care and attention he has always received from her was replicated in the way he was looked after, encouraged and given confidence by the English and Sheedy teams. This kind of care and attention is most important if Lar is to perform well.
In contrast he is critical of the Doyle and the Keating management styles. For him Doyle brought increased decibel levels to the job and not sufficient care and encouragement of players. ' I felt he was always shouting at me and I was always wary of making mistakes.' (P. 59). Babs was given a 2-year term 'and the one thing I can tell you is that we were a broken team by the time the term ended.' (P.84) He adds that 'all we were doing in 2006 and 2007 was turning up and fulfilling fixtures.' He concludes by describing Babs after retiring as 'a verbal gunslinger with both barrells aimed squarely at the the Tipp team.'
These remarks might suggest that Lar himself is a 'verbal gunslinger' in this book. Far from it. In fact he is very gentle in his remarks and extremely fair to his fellow players. He does reveal a bit of frustration at the way he was used and abused by Jackie Tyrell but only in the context that whereas that kind of carry-on may win matches in so far as it stops players from performing, it does nothing for hurling. Other than that there is little or nothing that any of his colleagues could take umbrage from with the exception his claim that a number of key players on the team, as well as the management, went along with the debacle of tailgateing Tommy Walsh in this year's All-Ireland semi-final.
The book is also leavened by some humurous stories none more so than 'Sausagegate', the story of Eugene O'Neill's failure to lose pounds during training. Another is the motivational pep talk given to the team by Pat Shortt before the 2010 All-Ireland.
Lar reveals a lot about himself in the way he describes the effect on himself as much as the panel as a result of the takeover by the 'dream management team' in 2007. They took over a team 'broken down physically and psychologically' and built it up again. They built up his fragile confidence. 'It's all in your head, Lar. Stop thinking. Hurling is instinctive. Just play the breaks.'
There is a great honesty about the book. He admits that he cried after the 'dream team' called it a day after the 2010 All-Ireland. He tells us about the abuse he received after that 2011 defeat. He wasn't even safe from abuse in his own pub. (P. 204) All of this gradually got him down and the catalyst that led to his decision to retire from the panel was the failure of the new management to respond to an injury he received at training at the end of January 2011. He does add that his new business venture was an additional factor. The bar business required his presence at night while his membership of the county panel demaded his presence in Morris Park at the same time.
Going into business was an important development for Lar. He had been 27 months on the dole, following his redundancy in the electrical buisness. Drawing the dole had a terrible effect on his self-belief and confidence. For him hurling and sport are built on confidence but his confidence and self-belief were severely dented as a result of being two years out of work
Initially the breakaway from hurling gave him a new lease of life but gradually he had to deal with more accusations of betrayal and abuse. For a while his new venture kept him going but gradually, as he put it 'My head melted a little bit every day, especially after defeat by Cork in the league semi-final in April.' He made up his mind to give it another shot on May 12: 'I was restless from lack of physical exercise. I missed having a hurley in my hands. It seemed the whole country was on my back at one time or another and there was no let up in sight.'
After his return to the panel for the Limerick game he noticed the difference in the way people reacted to him. He knew then that leaving the squad the way he did was wrong. 'Of course I felt at the time it was right, but I didn't handle it the best.' He continues: 'I immediatly felt at peace being back in the setup. There was a weight taken off my shoulders, a heaviness I didn't ever fully realise was there in the first place.'
And what of his 2012 tactics with his bete noire, Jackie Tyrell. According to Lar it was 'to prevent another 2011 scenario of being scragged and dragged and jostled' and no match official doing anything about it. He's in no way repentent: 'Despite all the abuse flying since, I thought we were doing okay in the first half.'
This book is a great read, a page turner that's almost impossible to lay aside. Tribute has to be paid to RTE and Tipperary journalist, Damien Lawlor, who has done a brilliant job writing it. The title may be ironic but it would concur with many readers belief that Lar is a bit like Hamlet in that he thinks too much, while hurling, as Eamon O'Shea said to him, is an 'instinctive game.'
Let Lar have the last word: 'The season that has just passed will not define me. Not as a hurler, not as a man. It is just part of my story.' (P. 277). Published by Transworld Ireland the book retails at €17.99
The Dan Breen Cup: Tipperary County SH Finals 1931-2011 by Jim Fogarty does what it says in the title, gives an account of all the county finals after which the Dan Breen Cup was presented. First presented by Dan Breen to the county board in 1931 the cup was presented to the Toomevara captain, Martin Kennedy, following success against Moycarkey-Borris in the county final of that year. The game wasn't played until February 14, 1932. (Captain Johnny Leahy of Boherlahan, wearing a blue and gold sweater with a light blue cap, a souvenir of the AmericanTour, refereed.'
Apart from the general information on the county finals it is the snippets of information like the above about the games that add to the attraction of this book. There are photographs of virtually all the teams that won and in the later finals of the runners-up as well, making it a fine visual record as well. From 1972 onwards the pictures are in colour. Team lineouts, giving first name of players, are also included, which makes it a great reference book.
There is a final chapter entitled, Miscellaneous, which brings together lists of the Man-of-the Match awards, which appeared first in 1979, a list of all the final referees – would you believe that John Moloney refereed 13 finals? - and the top scorers in all the finals. While most finals have been played at Thurles, no fewer that twenty have been played in other venues. Nenagh leads with six.
Jim Fogarty has produced a very interesting book and has done a marvellous service to program producers with a handy reference book of information on county finals. The book contains 266 pages, was launched by Micheal Ó Muircheartaigh at the Horse and Jockey Hotel on October 19 and retails for $20.
A Lorrha Miscellany by Seamus J. King was launched in the Abbey Tavern, Lorrha on October 10. It's the author's second book on his native parish. The first, Lothra agus Doire 1984-1984: Iomaint agus Peil was published in 1984 and was one of the first full G.A.A. club histories in the county.
Since then the author has written a good number of pieces about the parish and he has collected them together in A Lorrha Miscellany. The book is divided into three sections. The first includes historical pieces on events in the parish the most important of which has to be the article on Martin O'Meara, a parish native who emigrated to Australia in the second decade of the 20th century, fought in World War 1 with the Australian Expeditionary Force and won a Victoria Cross for outstanding bravery in France.
The second section contains profiles of the eight senior All-Ireland senior hurling winners from the parish. Some of these have appeared already in publications but a number of them have been re-written and others are completely new. The final section profiles other players from the parish, many of them childhood heroes of the writer.
The book, which contains 264 pages is well illustrated and retails for €15.
The Godfather of Modern Hurling: The Father Tommy Maher Story by Enda McEvoy is a great book and a must for all Tipperary supporters concerned about the almost complete dominance of hurling by Kilkenny in the present Millennium. When Tommy Maher took over the Kilkenny senior team in 1957 he first set about analysing Tipperary's hurling success to find out what special ingredients it had to be such a dominant force at that time in the game. Need I say that the boot is very much on the other foot now and we need Eamon O'Shea, or some other hurling guru, to analyse why Kilkenny are such a dominant force now.
Tommy Maher was the first man to use 'tactics'. 'Surely,' he concluded, 'there had to be more to training than this delirium of effort for its own sake. Surely there had to be room for thought, for logic, for imagination, for the cultivation of science, for the identification of problems, for the improvement of weaknesses and the coaching of skills.'
He revealed so much of himself as a trainer and coach of St. Kieran's in the All-Ireland Colleges final against St. Flannan's at Thurles in 1957. On that day, according to the author 'he demonstrated that the small things were the big things, that success in hurling was about the mastery of the basic skills, that practising the skills was not only desirable but crucial and that practice – proper practice – could mean the difference between victory and defeat.'
The 'plan' he had for the day didn't go well in the first half and St. Flannan's looked likely winners.
'Back in the sanctuary of the dressingroom silence reigned. The players half-expected Fr. Maher to denounce them from a height. After all, many another trainer would have – and, what's more, would have been well-entitled to do so in the circumstances. But Fr.Maher wasn't many another trainer. He wasn't any other trainer. No ash plants were splintered, no bottles fired at walls. In truth he barely uttered a word. His voice was ever soft, gentle and low, an excellent thing in a coach. 'I've trained ye to hurl in a certain way – now do it,' was about as much as he said.'
No need to tell you who won!
This is an outstanding biography, a brilliant read, a page turner in places from a writer who knows his hurling but, equally important, can write so well about it. Go out and buy it for a mere €15.
The G.A.A. v Douglas Hyde: The Removal of Ireland's First President as G.A.A. President by Cormac Moore (The Collins Press, €14-99, 259 p) On November 13, 1838 just months after his inauguration, President Hyde attended a soccer match between Ireland and Poland. The G.A.A. responded to the action by declaring that by attending a 'foreign game' the President had broken Rule 27 and he was removed as Patron of the Association on December 17.
The decision was ratified at the annual G.A.A. Congress the following April. The action of the G.A.A. was badly received by De Valera and his Government. The book examinbes why the G.A.A. took this course of action when they had a precedent for avoiding it. Earlier Guard George Ormsby had been suspended for attending a soccer match but won his appeal because he was there in an official capacity. The President might have been allowed attend for the same reason. The author examines the double standards and hypocrisy shown by the G.A.A. regarding their bans. There are examples of the lip service the G.A.A. paid to the Irish language, the open fouting of the 'foreign dance' rule by G.A.A. clubs and the haphazard way in which the 'foreign games' ban was administered and yet their main defence in removing Hyde was that they had no option. The episode is far removed from current attitudes and the book casts an interesting light on these far off days. The publication has some very interesting photographs.
Mid Tipperary G.A.A. 1884 –2007, A History. On November 23rd, the book - Mid Tipperary G.A.A. 1884 –2007, A History, was launched in Younge's, The Ragg, Thurles. In 2007, Mid Tipperary G.A.A. celebrated the centenary of its formation. A centenary committee was formed and one of the main tasks undertaken was the compilation of a photographic and written record of the role of the clubs and players of Mid Tipperary in the progress of the G.A.A. through the decades. The research work commenced in 2005. In 2008 and 2009 two volumes of photographs were published and this history book completes the trilogy.
To compile the history of the division has been a mammoth but proud task spearheaded by its editor - Martin Bourke, Clonmore. ably assisted by John Maher-Boherlahan/Dualla, Liam Ó Donnchú-Thurles Sarsfields, Ed Donnelly, Jimmy Fogarty -Moycarkey/Borris and John Smith of Dúrlas Óg. There were many others who helped in various ways to see the project to fruition.
The book, which costs €20, contains a detailed chronological account of all the happenings of the Association in the Mid division since 1884. Of particular interest is the extensive statistical section, which lists all the winning teams in all grades. The book also contains a selection of photographs, reflecting the great teams and players through the years.
All four divisions in Tipperary have now published their history and together they form an essential source of information for the researcher of the future or the Tipperary G.A.A. enthusiast.
Horse and Jockey Remembers its Past – A Pictorial Record. This pictorial record, compiled by Horse and Jockey Remembers its Past committee was launched on November 24th, at Horse and Jockey Hotel. It is an amazing collection of some five hundred photographs, in both colour and black/white. The photographs span many decades with images of local people at work, at play, at home, at school, in group settings, social and sporting occasions or involved in club activities. The memories of the older generation will be stirred and the younger generation will glean a glimpse of the lives and times long past. This is not 'strictly speaking' a history book about the 'most famous cross-roads in Ireland', but 'moments in time' captured forever by the camera lens. It is also a visual record of the profound changes that have occurred in this area during the past one hundred years.
Liam Ó Donnchú, who was Tipperary Yearbook secretary for many years, is a member of the committee along with Tom Egan, John Hassett, Mary Roche, Richard O'Keeffe, Connie O'Keeffe and Averil Clarke.
This unique collection sells for € 20 and is available in local outlets.
It's only right to mention the Boherlahan-Dualla Historical Journal 2012 in this article, even though it's not a G.A.A. publication. The reason is that this excellent production, in its fifteenth year of existence, contains three important articles in connection with the centenary of the foundation of the Boherlahan G.A.A. Club.
Current chairman, of the club, Lar Devane, writes about the foundation and the founding members and how their posterity keep cropping up in the ranks of later club teams. Seamus Leahy writes of the Walshes of Tubberadora and how the family immigrated to the parish from Ballybacon and contributed to the success of the famous team. The Walshes were joined by John Connolly, also from Ballybacon, and he also figured in the successful Tubberadora teams. So a significant number of the team came from outside the parish. Is this unique for rural teams of the period?
Equally fascinating is Philip Ryan's account of the Thomas Francis Meagher Football Club from the townslands of Thurlesbeg, Freighduff and Cl,onmore. This was the home of Meaghers and the families had various identifying names to distinguish them. The TFM football club was one of four teams from the parish of Boherlahan-Dualla to affiliate to the G.A.A. in the early days and it took part in a number of tournaments, which were the forerunners of properly organised championships.
In one of these tournaments the team was reputed to include seventeen Meaghers out of a total of twenty-one players. The team had a short existence and by 1888 had amalgamated with Boherlahan but while it existed it attracted big crowds to its games
The Journal is available for €10 at local outlets.
Tipperary G.A.A. Yearbook 2013, pp.64-67