A different reward

Tonight’s the night.

An outsider in the field, I’ve been nominated for Sports Book of the Year, up against celebrities like Donncha O’Callaghan, Ronnie Whelan, Tony McCoy and Nicolas Roche, not to mind Paul Kimmage, who I am in awe of.

The awards ceremony will be held at a black-tie dinner in the RDS tonight, with our new president presiding.

Win or lose, I’m not sure that awards are the best way to judge a book – I’d rather see people interested in sport buy all six nominated books and make up their own minds.

But I’m nothing if not competitive, despite being the outsider by some distance a part of me really hopes I win, and not for the prize or prestige or anything else.

It’s because I feel that our story – the story of the Irish community abroad and how Gaelic games helps us keep it together – really needs to be told.

With a massively expanded media landscape, it can be very difficult to make your voice heard these days, and despite a slew of interviews and media appearances there are still people out there who don’t know that the GAA’s reach extends far beyond our borders.

It is for them that I wrote “A Parish Far From Home”.

It is written for those who keep it lit, as Hector would say. It is for the mothers and fathers, the families and friends of our emigrants that I put these words on paper.

So tonight when I put on the black tie and head for the RDS I’ll be fulfilling one of the first sentences I wrote when I started on this journey.

“We had a dream. And in sport, if you don’t have a dream, you don’t have anything.”