Praise for The Game


I’m so grateful for the generosity of people and for the kind words they have said about The Game.

Some of the praise it has received:

Donal Ryan‘This is a towering work. … The essays ‘Miracles’ and ‘Kisses’ are two of the most beautiful, poignant and heartfelt pieces of writing I’ve ever read. Tadhg is clear-eyed, intelligent, and unrelentingly honest about the darkness that pervades the business of sport and its capacity to arouse our basest instincts … He asks the hardest of questions and delivers unflinchingly honest answers. This is no paean … it is a brilliantly forensic and startlingly objective account of the ways that sport at once transcends, debases and delineates our humanity. Tadhg admits to feeling like an outsider but he is firmly and undeniably in the inner circle of the great sportswriters. And he is clearly, though he’d probably deny it, the truest of sportsmen.’


Sinéad Gleeson‘The Game is a heartfelt exploration of sport and so much more. A many-chambered book that is empathetic and engaging.’


Malachy Clerkin‘Any of us who write about sport will have thought about writing this kind of book at some point. An attempt to understand sport, to explain it (and us), to stake its outer boundaries in our own peculiar way. Thankfully for all concerned, Tadhg Coakley has saved the world the bother of having to plough through all that. The Game is a thoughtful, artful gem. It is a complete treat for anyone who has played sport, watched sport, read about sport or tried to write about it. It’s not quite a memoir but not quite not a memoir either. For a small book, its scope is massive and the writing is glorious. A book of wisdom, love, mania and truth.’  Malachy’s article on sports books of the year for 2022, featuring The Game. 


Rachael English: Superb. I love how it captures our relationship with sport, and why it matters so much.’ 


Rónán Hession: ‘The Game spoke to me on many levels. A deep-thinking book that is part memoir & part meditation on the part sports plays in our own lives & in society generally. Thoughtful, moving, and beautifully written. A genuinely profound book.’ 


Caitriona Bennett: ‘Just finished this beautiful book. The Game is a seriously impressive read.’


Eibhear Walshe: ‘What a honest, insightful, and moving collection of essays on sport! For someone like myself who never played team sports, it was even more powerful to read, explaining the real sense of fulfilment and passion that sport brings yet honest and direct about the contradictions and darkness. I enjoyed every word I read.’


Kieran Cunningham, Irish Star: ‘Top class.’


Ciarán Murphy, Second Captains and Irish Times: The Game is so, so good. Many parts stood out, but I’ve been thinking about the piece about being lost in a game [in ‘Ekstasis’]  since I read it a few weeks ago too. The book is a revelation. Highly recommended.’


Mairéad Hearn, Book Blogger:The Game is a very profound reflection, a stunning memoir but also it is a piercing examination of our relationship, as a society, with sport. Using his own personal experiences as a writer, a team-player and a fan Tadhg explores the wider influence of sport and its oft-times unhealthy relationship with money. He deals with the collective versus the individual and his sense of often being situated in a kind of no-man’s land. Tadhg Coakley is refreshingly honest in his words providing the reader with a very astute and intimate reading experience. Donal Ryan refers to The Game as ‘a towering work’, which really is a perfect description for this truly masterful piece of writing, an accessible and essential read for all, both sporting and literary fans alike.’    Mairéad’s full review here.


Rory Kiberd, The Irish Times:This multi-faceted book ponders how sport teaches us about our own limitations, how winning is foundational on losing, losers being in far greater supply than winners; how defeats and victories are ephemeral. All lessons essential to life. Indeed, sport is like a more concentrated version of life, a microcosmic intensification of its vagaries. So, it’s fitting then that this book transcends its remit. It’s an enquiry into the philosophy of sport with universal application. Even people who’ve never kicked a ball or roared in triumph in the stands will love this. My absorption never faltered … An essential book for fans of both sport and probing essays alike.’ Rory’s full review here.


Kieran Shannon, The Irish Examiner: [The Game’s] beauty is in how personal yet universal it is, how he blends what is in some ways a sociology of sport with what is in part a memoir, making it a work of literature…Coakley writes enough and beautifully about the wonder and magic that sport can be to the child and how it remains a source of wonder to him now, for all the innocence he and sport have subsequently lost since he was kicking that ball out in the back garden nearly half a century ago. By being both that worldly adult yet always still that kid with a ball, mesmerised by the likes of George Best and Con Roche, Coakley has come up with one of the most distinctive, original, beautiful and best books on sport this country has known. A treasure.’ Kieran’s full column here. 


Bridget Bhreathnach, Tuairisc

‘Saol rúndiamhair é saol an spóirt domsa ar go leor bealaí. Tuigim an áilleacht, tuigim an díograis, tuigim an chomrádaíocht, tuigim fiú tarraingt na hiomaíochta. Ina dhiaidh sin féin, tá go leor gnéithe de shaol an spóirt a chuireann as dom. Ní thuigim cén fáth go bhfuil níos mó meas ar spórt na bhfear ná spórt na mban, ná cén fáth go mbíonn daoine in aighneas lena chéile mar gheall ar chluiche amháin nó eile. Déanann Coakley machnamh ar chuid de na ceisteanna seo sna haistí chomh maith le machnamh ar ghnéithe áille spreagúla an spóirt. Tá cur chuige tuisceanach, pearsanta, umhal aige sna haistí, cuid acu ar nós ‘Kisses’ agus ‘Miracles’ a tharraingeodh deoir as cloch eibhir.Bridget’s full review here. 


Tomás Kenny, Kenny’s Bookshop, Galway: This book is absolutely superb. Have been recommending it to every customer who will listen coming in.’


Ger McCarthy, The Southern Star: ‘One of Cork and Ireland’s most gifted writers, Tadhg Coakley has struck gold with his latest offering. A poignant, beautifully crafted book about what sport means and how it shapes the heart, soul and lives of sports-mad enthusiasts and those around them. This is a magnificent read. Why are so many people we know and love so interested in sport? This is not an easy question to answer but Coakley’s nimble phrasing and unrequited love of sport drips from every page. Using his own intimate experiences, Tadhg Coakley has written a book that will appeal to sports fans of all ages.’


Colin Sheridan, The Irish Examiner: ‘Tadhg Coakley’s magical ode to sport The Game is less a book, more a heartbreaking love letter to life and love and family and community. A relatable story told through the eyes of a poet. In other words, a perfect Christmas present.’


Siobhán Doyle, author of A History of the GAA in 100 Objects:‘”Sport is great, isn’t it? It is when you win, but mostly you lose”. Simply stunning reflections on life through the lens of sport. Tadhg Coakley posed questions I never thought to ask and described me (a sports fan) in ways I didn’t even know. Bravo!’


Marjorie Brennan, The Irish Examiner: ‘Don’t be led astray by the title — this is a book for everyone, not just sports fans. The Ballinlough-based writer gives us a beautifully considered and insightful reflection on life and how we live it, as seen through the lens of sport.’


Paschal Donoghue, Minister of Finance for Ireland: ‘A wonderful collection of articles and essays about sport and about everything else.’


Tracey Kennedy, former Chairman, Cork GAA: ‘Oh wow… I loved ‘The Game’. If you’ve any connection at all with sport, you must read it. I cried at the descriptions of how sport connects us to the memories of our loved ones, thinking about how, 11 years after his death, I’d still love to be able to discuss a match result with my father or argue with him about some County Board decision. I loved the honesty of Tadhg’s exploration of the dark side of sport, which was genuinely challenging, and the poignancy of his references to the children he’ll never have resonated strongly with me – mine have names too – but that sense of loss is never self-pitying. This book covers everything we love and hate about sport, and of course, the language is beautiful throughout.’


Ruairí de Barra,  An Cosantóir, ‘[Sport] can be passionate and tribal; joyous and devastating; the essential trivial pursued with all-consuming intensity. This unmissable work explores it all. It truly isn’t often these days you read a work which is so thoughtfully written, it can move one to tears. Entertaining, honest, and thoughtful writing which lingers with you in the days after and makes it one you will always remember. The Game is such a book.’  Full review by Ruairí here. 


Paul Howard: ‘The Game is a fantastic book. I loved it.’


Gráinne McGuinness, The Echo:TADHG Coakley’s latest book is about sport; the role it plays in our lives and the deep devotion it inspires in so many people. But like all the best writing, in The Game: A Journey Into The Heart of Sport, Coakley is writing about much more than sport, about family and memory, and about belonging and what it is to be alive…Coakley delves deep into his mind and memories, and asks: What is sport for, what does it do to us, and why does it connect so many people?Full interview with Gráinne here. 


Máire Treasa Ní Cheallaigh, The Irish Independent: ‘Coakley helped me rediscover the soul of sport, while painting a rich tapestry of pivotal sporting moments in his own life. [The Game] is brave, deceptively deep, full of life lessons, and introspection in between trips to games. The dark side of sport is dissected, too … It’s all wrapped up in an unavoidable poignancy.’


Paul Dollery, The Irish Sun: ‘Coakley has done an impeccable job of getting to the bottom of the conundrum of sport and why it matters so much to so many… He has a knack of finding common ground with the reader and these are the kinds of recollections that many will relate to. If your life has been shaped by sport in any small way, this book will resonate. Heartfelt, moving and sensitively crafted.’


Gavin O’Connor, actor and writer:This is a stunning reflection by Tadhg Coakley on what sport can mean socially, culturally and spiritually. It even delves into the epigenetic trauma of loss. For anyone who has crossed the whitewash or stood on a terrace and wondered what it’s all about. A truly beautiful book.’


Thomas McCarthy, poet: ‘THE GAME is an extraordinary book both for those who love sport and play sport and those who really don’t understand the madness of sport at all. There will never be a book like Tadhg’s again, I think, as it is unique in the way it communicates for the outsider that fatal intoxication with the game, with clubs, with team-mates, with rivals; the familial hopes and dreams and failures that faces any man or woman involved in sport from childhood. If you haven’t read the book be sure to buy it, a perfect Christmas evening read, a perfect, meditative, insightful work to read on winter evenings.’


Anne Cunningham, The Meath Chronicle: ”I’m no sports fan but I found this book thoughtful, engaging and above all beautifully stitched together.’ You can read Anne’s review here.


Jordan McCarthy, writer: ‘Cork writer, former Cork hurler and Mallow United footballer, and ex-librarian, Tadhg Coakley has produced an absolute masterpiece in the shape of The Game: A Journey Into The Heart Of Sport, his latest publication, which is published by Merrion Press. A book which is part-memoir, it features a collection of beautifully-written sports essays which will widely appeal to sports lovers and non-sports folk alike. The essays vary in topic from Tadhg’s own playing career, to his experiences as a fan who regularly consumes multiple different sports.’ Full Review here.