Annual 'Season of Sundays' treat as stunning as ever
If you're seeking the ideal Christmas present for the Gaelic games fan in your life, you won't go too far wrong by purchasing 'A Season Of Sundays', the annual treat which comes direct from the lens of the Sportsfile photographers.
This is the 21st successive edition of a visually stunning presentation of the hurling and football year as captured by Ray McManus and his talented team.
I may be doing my own profession a disservice by noting that 'a picture is worth a thousand words', but it's hard to find fault with that age-old idiom after flicking through the pages of this beautifully-presented book.
Given the momentous year enjoyed by Galway, it was a wise choice to feature hurler of the year Joe Canning on the front cover. He has just struck that marvellous match-winning point from tight to the sideline in their All-Ireland semi-final against Tipperary, with his face breaking into a broad smile as he follows the flight of the ball.
And with Dublin landing the three-in-a-row in football, it's only fitting that their magnificent achievement should be captured on the back cover as a jubilant Dean Rock reacts to the joy of their fans after the victory against Mayo.
With a retail price of €29.95, this falls neatly into present-buying territory - not too cheap to be considered a miserly purchase but, more importantly, well within most people's price range for that special someone.
The eagle-eyed among you, regular purchasers of 'A Season Of Sundays', will note that this edition doesn't have a dust cover, but the quality of images inside is as impressive as ever.
Keen collectors of G.A.A. material are always on the look-out for back issues to complete the full set, and the five sold-out editions - 1997, 1999, 2002, 2004 and 2005 - are particularly difficult to obtain and eagerly sought after.
The beauty of this collection is that the photographers place as much emphasis on non-descript tournament games in early January as the sunshine days in Croke Park throughout the month of September - soon to change to August.
The eye for a quirky image is one of the traits that separates the best snappers from the rest, and it requires split second timing to capture the moment, particularly in competitive sport.
The Sportsfile team is, appropriately enough, 15 strong, and they really get to the heart of what the G.A.A. is all about with their outstanding work.
The photographs that particularly appeal to me feature players and mentors - both in victory and defeat - with their nearest and dearest, either sharing in the joy or ready to provide a shoulder to cry on.
I think that sums up the familial nature of the games and the immediacy of its chief protagonists, people you are likely to meet on any main street in any town or city in Ireland, and most villages too, while going about your daily business.
Those cold winter nights when anything seems possible are captured with an image of the Wexford hurlers warming up under the Hollymount floodlights before their Walsh Cup clash with Dublin.
Wexford supporter John Thomas has his autograph book at the ready outside the dressing-room after the league win against Limerick in another striking portrait, and it isn't long before this lavish book takes the recipient head-long into the brighter summer days.
Some things are as synonymous with Christmas as turkey and ham and the arrival of Santa - and 'A Season Of Sundays' is certainly on that list. Long may that be the case.
Visit The Book Centre on Wexford's Main Street for the very best selection of sports books.