Football

A Tale of Two Cities, Rivalry and Loss

January, 2021 Column in the Irish Examiner, where I write about the Liverpool and Manchester United rivalry and what it has meant to me down the years. I also pay tribute to my great friend Tom Abernethy, whom we lost in March, 2020 and whom I miss terribly, especially when United are playing.

I’m now working on the Autobiography of Denis Coughlan

I’m delighted to announce I’m working with the legendary Cork dual-star Denis Coughlan on his biography, to be published by Hero Books later in 2020 as part of the Legends Series. Denis contested no less than 81 county, provincial and All-Ireland finals at all grades during his fantastic career.

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

The Dingle Diaries. 3: Pogba Abú, Herrera Abú

Feeling good after our walk, we strolled into town and had fish and chips in Harrington’s on Strand Street. Hard to beat it and that’s the truth. I was feeling especially good because I got two affirming messages on the way back from The Magherees. One from a sports writer about my book, I don’t even know him, what a kind thing to do; and the other inviting me to read at an event next month. Both welcome, both keeping the old imposter syndrome at bay for another bit. Writers and their egos, eh?

England v Belgium – We’re Never Really Neutral

An English novelist, a wonderful writer whom I greatly admire, Tweeted yesterday after Germany were knocked out of the World Cup. He wished there was a word that would denote one taking pleasure in another’s misery. Haha, very good. And fair enough, too. The English have suffered a lot over the past 12 years, not winning one knockout game in any championship. Meantime, Germany only went and bloody won the last World Cup in the Maracanã, claiming their fourth in all. Three more than England.

Who I’m Cheering For in World Cup 2018

Karl Ove Knausgaard, in his book Home and Away: Writing the Beautiful Game, shares a series of letters with his friend Fredrik Ekelund about the 2014 World Cup. In his first letter he says that he will always cheer on Argentina and Italy in such competitions. And he does this because both teams are traditionally cynical, they never do ‘anything beautiful for the sake of beautiful, only if there is some outcome.’ And the fact that they can do so, but hold back, appeals to something deep in side him.

Sport and Fiction 3: Not Art by Péter Esterházy

Not Art, like all good sports fiction, isn’t about sport and in many ways it isn’t even a novel. It’s a piece of autofiction by a man writing about his mother. A mother who is besotted by football and by one practitioner in particular, the great Ferenc Puskás of Hungary. Esterházy is an interesting character, coming from an aristocratic family, and considered a major European novelist. His brother was a professional footballer and Péter himself played a bit.