Sunday 19 January 2020

Carlow boss has perfect antidote to stress on sideline

Cycling South Leinster - Great Road Routes
Cycling South Leinster - Great Road Routes

Book review - Alan Aherne

I know from bitter experience that managing a team at any level, and in any sport, is a thankless and stressful task.

For every high there's a multitude of lows, and people's memories can be very short if results don't go according to plan.

Even in the good times, there's always someone plotting in the background against the manager who has a multitude of issues to contend with.

And if that's the reality within the average club, it goes without saying that it gets even tougher moving up through the ranks.

Why on earth would anyone want to do it and, is it even possible to minimise the stress levels when the expectations are so great?

Well, there's one inter-county football manager out there who has the perfect remedy.

Carlow boss Turlough O'Brien has featured prominently in the national media since their deserved home win over Wexford last month which was followed by that predictable Leinster quarter-final exit at the hands of the Dubs.

When he's not patrolling the sidelines with that familiar clipboard in his hand, he likes to get away from it all by hopping on his bike and pedalling around the highways and byways of the region.

And Turlough's passion and enthusiasm for the great outdoors prompted him to write a recently-released book, 'Cycling South Leinster - Great Road Routes', one of a series of informative guides for various areas of the country published by Collins Press.

His own interest developed as a teenager when his father, Jim, was Secretary of Carlow Co. G.A.A. Board and entrusted him with the task of delivering the post by bicycle to the club Secretaries all over the county.

'I quickly got to know the beautiful townland names and the shortest routes along the back roads of the county. And it went from there,' he explained.

The book is neat in size and will fit most pockets, with the 144 pages jam-packed with images, maps and descriptions of no fewer than 30 suggested trips to take.

Counties Kildare, Laois, Carlow, Kilkenny, Offaly, Wicklow and of course Wexford are included, and there's something there for everyone, from the hardcore cycling enthusiast looking for a test of physical endurance to the newcomer to the saddle who wants to avail of a leisurely pace and take in as much scenery as possible along the way.

We sometimes tend to forget that we are surrounded by so much natural beauty, and this book serves as a timely reminder.

The journeys undertaken by O'Brien include the Johnstown Castle Ring, a distance of 54 km. lasting two to two and a half hours via Murrintown, Baldwinstown, Kilmore Quay, Kilmore, Tomhaggard, Tacumshane, Our Lady's Island, Killinick and Piercestown.

He's also a big fan of the Ring Of Hook circuit of 44 km., using Duncannon as a starting and finishing point and taking in the spectacular coastal scenery of the area.

I'm writing this review on the warmest day of the year so far, and I can only imagine how refreshing it would be to be biking around south Leinster in such idyllic conditions.

Football is likely to leave the author with a few more grey hairs before the year is over, but I think he's come up with the perfect antidote to all that stress.

Visit The Book Centre on Wexford's Main Street for the very best selection of sports books.

Wexford People

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