For the hurling fan in your life, there could be no better stocking filler this Christmas than Jackie Tyrrell's autobiography 'The Warrior's Code', penned by Christy O'Connor.
It defies the expectations of an autobiography from a Kilkenny hurler, being surprisingly open with feelings regarding management and opponents. Though there is undoubted respect for Brian Cody, the Kilkenny manager is not above questioning from Tyrrell regarding his methods.
One of the star characters in the book is Tyrrell's long-time teammate Tommy Walsh. Like Tyrrell, Walsh is a nine-time All-Ireland winner, and also an individual obsessed with his sport.
During the winter following Clare's 2013 All-Ireland win - Kilkenny exited at the quarter-final stage of the championship that year - a group of players found themselves in Wexford for a stag.
Tommy Walsh's obsession with marking Tony Kelly - who was that year named Hurler and Young Hurler of the Year - in the following year's championship was a common theme throughout the night.
The next morning Walsh decided he was going to steal a march on Kelly.
The following morning, Tommy was up at 8am. He got one of the lads who was on the stag, but who wasn't drinking, to drive him out to the beach in Wexford. He was still drunk when he jumped into the freezing Irish Sea. 'Tony Kelly isn't training in the sea in the middle of November,' he was roaring. 'So I'll be ready for him next year.'
In 2009, the GPA All-Stars clashed with the night the Kilkenny panel were being awarded their All-Ireland medals. First attending the All-Star awards, the players then made their way via taxi to Langtons in Kilkenny.
Even though alcohol had been provided in the taxis, a pub pitstop was still required. Paddy's in Clara was the location chosen.
There were two auld fellas at the bar, quietly sipping their pints. Tommy went to the jacks and when he arrived back, he pretended to be a young bull who had just been let out onto a field for the first time. A young bull wouldn't have been as wild — Tommy was leaping around like a demented leprechaun.
Then he decided to play a game. 'You've to disappear around the corner,' he said. 'And you've to come back as an animal. And we have to guess what kind of a beast you are?
We were roaring and lewing like calves, snorting like pigs, kicking like horses. This was all going on while we were suited up to the nines in Tuxedos. The two auld fellas at the bar knew who we were but they were looking at us like we were aliens who had landed from Mars. The phones were hopping by that stage. We jumped into a taxi and were back in Langton's within 20 minutes. We were all hammered. You could see Brian looking over at us but we didn't give a shite.
Though Tommy Walsh hurls with Tullaroan, his home address is Ballycallan. This was a fact which teammate John Hoyne regularly highlighted.
Walsh, however, had a great response.
Tommy was never having any of it. 'Me father,' — Tommy would begin a lot of sentences mentioning his father — 'told me that when they were building the house at home, they built the main part of the house in Tullaroan, but they built the toilet in Ballycallan. So we eat and sleep in Tullaroan. But we go to the jacks in Ballycallan.'
Picture credit: Piaras Ó Mídheach / SPORTSFILE