'Stay at home and read a book' - NI sports personalities share their favourite reads

Peter Canavan
Canavan managed Fermanagh after retiring as a player

While starved of live sporting action to enjoy or take part in, many people are reading more to help fill the void.

Last week we brought you 10 of the best Northern Ireland sports books and, this week, we have asked a number of leading sports personalities to share some of their favourite books with us.

Keen to emphasise the importance of following the government guidelines on staying at home, major names from the worlds of GAA, boxing, rugby and football have given us an insight into their reading choices.

Former Tyrone forward Peter Canavan, a two-time All-Ireland winner and one of the most decorated players in GAA, has an interesting mix of sport and history to get us started.

"The Race to Truth is about Emma O'Reilly, an Irish girl who for years was Lance Armstrong's personal soigneur," he explained. "But that close relationship all changed when she was driven by the need to tell the truth about him and the extent of doping within the sport.

"The Pursuit of Perfection, an intimate and meaningful description of the life of Cormac McAnallen, is a beautifully written book.

"Blind Ambition is the story of Janet Gray, a four-time world disabled water ski champion, describing how her remarkable courage helped her overcome adversity.

"The book I have just finished, meanwhile, is not about sport but is The Cartel, a number one bestseller which is a fascinating behind-the-scenes account of the Kinahan crime cartel."

Bowe's books

Switching codes to rugby, former Ulster and Ireland wing Tommy Bowe looks to tennis and cycling for his sporting recommendations.

"Andre Agassi's autobiography, Open, is a phenomenal read that shows how difficult life as a professional sports person is, particularly psychologically," he said.

"The Secret Race by Tyler Hamilton, meanwhile, is an incredible read into what went on in the Lance Armstrong teams and all those Tour de France wins.

"For a non-sports book, Touching The Void by Joe Simpson is gripping from start to finish. You will really enjoy that - they have actually turned it into a movie as well."

Lennon recommends Clough

Celtic manager and former Northern Ireland captain Neil Lennon has turned to a book about Brian Clough, who led Nottingham Forest to two European Cup wins, for his recommended reading.

"It's called Nobody Ever Says Thank You and it's a great read about one of my managerial heroes," the former Leicester City midfielder said.

"It's very enjoyable and anecdotal. He was one of the geniuses of the game and a huge inspiration to me and many other managers."

David Jeffrey
Jeffrey recently signed a contract extension at Ballymena

Ballymena United boss David Jeffrey has won more trophies than any other manager in the Irish League, but what books does he use for inspiration? What stories have caught his imagination in print?

"Leading by Sir Alex Ferguson is the best book I have ever read, and have referred to it on many occasions for guidance during my time in management," said Jeffrey, who was once on the books as a youngster at Manchester United.

"I have also enjoyed a few books on George Best, who I really admired as a player, while a book that I have bought and am yet to read is Rory Best's autobiography - I'm looking forward to that one.

"One of the books on my reading list that I'm also looking forward to is The Gambler, Oisin McConville's autobiography. I've met Oisin a few times and he is a solid person - I've a lot of respect for him."

Away from sport, the former Linfield captain and manager referred to The Bible as "my book" and added that it is the book he would miss most if it was taken from him.

Conlan recommends Magee book while staying indoors

Finally, Belfast boxer Michael Conlan, whose St Patrick's Day fight against Belmar Preciado in Madison Square Garden was postponed, has looked to another Belfast boxer for his book of choice.

"My favourite book is The Lost Soul of Eamonn Magee. It's a fantastic book and a fascinating read on the life and career of Eamon," he said.

"I would highly recommend it, especially at times like this when we have to stay indoors. So please, please stay at home, stay safe and read a book."

A suitable message to end on.

Balding's book choices

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