A vote for victory

I’ve never believed that competitions and prizes were a good way of deciding the merits of books.

Until I was nominated for one.

And I know not all of you have read it, but there’s a line in my book about how I’ve no interest in being told what I can’t do.

After the nomination for Sports Book of the Year at the Irish Book Awards, it’s been happening again.

“Well done on the nomination! Shame you’re up against such tough competition.”

People are telling me I can’t win. And maybe they’re right. But that ain’t going to stop me trying.

It’s true that there’s some heavyweights there- Paul Kimmage, Donnacha O’Callaghan, Nicholas Roche, Tony McCoy and Ronnie Whelan have also written excellent books this year.

In one way even being mentioned in such great company is a victory in itself.

But even though most people saw the list and had no idea who I am, there are still two factors in my favour.

One is that it’s the only book about Gaelic games on the shortlist.

The other is that my book is a tale for every single emigrant that ever left our country, and every single mother or father that ever watched them go.

As I write, the presidential election in Ireland is about to take place, and I and thousands like me don’t have a vote. We get no say in who represents us.

But we all have our dreams, and as I wrote in A Parish Far From Home, “in sport, if you don’t have a dream, you don’t have anything”.

My dream is to go to the Irish Book Awards on November 17th and to tell the tale of the Irish abroad, of how we help our country and each other in our hour of need.

My dream is to tell anyone who’ll listen about how we’re bringing Gaelic football and hurling to the four corners of the world, introducing them to new players and cultures as we go.

My dream is to let everyone know that, even if you are forced to leave Ireland, you can find a little corner of it in Sweden, in Sydney, in Shanghai – or you can start your own, so bring your boots.

Your part in this dream is that you can decide where I get to tell this story.

I can tell it to every guest and journalist I meet as we mingle the night of the Irish Book Awards.

Or you can vote for my book as Sports Book of the Year and I can tell them the glorious story of the Irish far from home from the podium when I go up to collect the prize.

You can vote for A Parish Far From Home as the Irish Sports Book of the Year here.