The eir Sports Book of the Year was announced today, in the exceptionally pleasant surroundings of Dun’s Library, in the Royal College of Physicians on Kildare Street, Dublin 2. The book-lined room was a fitting location for an award that, even in only its second year, is earning a reputation for the integrity of its choices.
Overall, 22 books were longlisted, 5 were shortlisted, and the overall winner was Kieran Donaghy for his autobiography What Do You Think of That? Last year’s winner, John Leonard (Dub Sub Confidential) spoke before the presentation on the impact of the award; how, aside from prompting a welcome 50% spike in sales, it had allowed him to connect with readers around the world, many of whom have been in touch to share very similar experiences.
On receipt of the award, Donaghy, who admitted he had been promised he would not have to give a speech, accepted the award with an eloquence that spoke well of what to expect from his book. His co-author, Kieran Shannon, added to the sense of what to expect from winners of this award when he spoke of how important it was to get this kind of validation from his peers. Because that’s the thing about this award. The judging panel is entirely independent from the sponsors, at the request of the sponsors. It is made up of sports journalists and broadcasters, with an independent chair in Mark Duncan. And, crucially, they read all the books. This might seem obvious, but the truth is that it’s not something that always happens and that it does here. The merits of the books were debated and, ultimately, the winner was the unanimous choice.
For the reader, what this might mean is that the sticker that lists a book as a winner of this award is, as things stand, one to trust. We would wish both this book, and this award, every success.