Sportswriting

A Public Apology to Naomi Osaka

Dear Naomi,   I just wanted to express my sorrow and to apologise for the fact that you have been hounded out of the French Open. I think that everybody involved in sport – fans, administrators, players, sports writers, editors, directors and commentators are all guilty of complicity in this, this latest disgraceful event in sport.

Tadhg Coakley’s Páirc Uí Chaoimh pilgrimage

May, 2021 I wrote a piece for the Irish Examiner welcoming hurling back again for 2021.  ‘I wanted to celebrate the return of hurling but behind a sense of juxtaposition. The one Martin Scorsese created when he overlaid the sublime music of the ‘Intermezzo’ from Cavalleria Rusticana on Jake LaMotta’s brutality and violence in Raging Bull.’

How Sport will be changed by Covid-19

So How Was your Sporting Covid-19 Lockdown? Good and bad. I was busy on a book called Everything, the Autobiography of Denis Coughlan, and being active was a great boost in the grim month of April when the whole country was battling to prevent our health system being overrun by the virus. Having a sense of purpose each morning and working my way through the book, sentence by sentence, provided me with a guiding light through the uncertain darkness. My family were all safe and healthy and none of them, thank God, lost their jobs or anything like that. But the images of people being buried without their families and the very idea of so many dying alone and fearful was a horror that affected us all, I think.

Fifty-four Questions on Ireland v. Denmark

Are you watching the game with the sound turned down so low that you can hear only some background noise and the voice of the commentators, but not what they are saying? Can you remember when you started doing that? Can you remember why? Is it because words are worthless in describing sport when it is happening? And worthless afterwards, when it is over? Or do you resent the commentator telling you what you are watching, when you know what you are watching? Is it because of what Joyce Carol Oates said about boxing taking place in a place beyond words? Is it because, since you began writing that bloody book about sport, that you are concentrating more on what you are feeling than on what is actually happening inside the four white lines? Do you like the Irish jerseys’ particular shade of green? If you knew the name of

Dark Passions – extract from a sports essay

I’m walking down the Ennis Road in Limerick. It is the summer of 2019. Cork have just beaten the All-Ireland champions, Limerick, and I’m feeling good. The Cork fans are buzzing – it doesn’t take much for us to roll back out our cocky strut. A lone and drunk young Cork supporter is taunting some Limerick people nearby. He sings (badly): ‘We’re from Cork and we’re better than you, We’re from Cork and we’re better than you, We’re from Cork and we’re better than you.’ Over and over again he sings it, smiling, pointing his finger at the Limerick fans, walking down the Ennis Road.

A Better Version of Ourselves

I’m in West Kerry, on holidays. I’m standing outside Paudie Ó Sé’s pub catching my breath after a fervid two hours of championship hurling magic conjured out the air by Tipperary and Wexford. Sandmartins weave a dreamy thread of air above me. A benign sun pulses light and heat, easing away the dark intensity of the match inside. I check my pulse: 89 bpm – good. When Séamus Callanan scored his transcendent goal after ten minutes of the game – delaying and delaying and delaying the hit until the ball was the apex of its third bounce – I felt my breath catch and my heart lose purchase and my ears buzz and I had to put a hand on the counter of the bar and calm myself. The fitbit showed my heart-rate then at 103 bmp – not good.

Golf Assumes its Rightful Place

After six weeks of Open Champion™ celebrations in Clara, Mullingar applies to Offaly County Council to twin with the home of Shane Lowry and is accepted. Galway quickly follows suit. The celebrations spread. The missing RTÉ journalist is found in Clane, County Kildare where he had been looking for somebody who knew the Lowrys to interview. A Mr. Tommy Joe Byrne claims to have known a man who knew a Brendan Lowry, but it turns out to have been a different Brendan Lowry. RTÉ still runs the piece.

Five Moments in Sport

I wrote an essay, ‘Five Moments in Sport’, and the lovely people at The Stinging Fly published it in May 2019. In July 2019 they kindly put the essay online on their website

The Corkman who loves Kilkenny and looks up to Women’s Sport

What time should we hit the road on Sunday? The bloody road works in Naas still aren’t finished. Before we get to that, I’ve a bit of news. Oh. Is it the prostate again? The prostate is fine. It’s this: I love Kilkenny. Jesus, keep your voice down. What are you on about? I’m reading a brilliant book at the moment called Amateur. It’s by Thomas Page McBee and he’s a transgender man who took part in a boxing match in Madison Square Garden in 2015. In the very first chapter of the book, he describes the fight and his opponent. He writes: ‘The truth was, I loved him even as I danced around him with my hands in the air.’ The purity of revelation in that statement floored me.

Women’s Football World Cup. USA v England

He looks at the other three men in the pub in Dublin. Waits for a condescending or sexist remark. It doesn’t come. He’s vaguely disappointed. Don’t comment about the standard of football, don’t comment about the women’s bodies.