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When The World Stops Watching By Damian Lawlor

Release date: 06th October, 2020
Publisher: Black & White Publishing

List Price: £17.00
Our Price: £13.43
You Save: £3.57 (21%)
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Earlier this year, during one of Sky Sports’ excellent golf podcasts, Irish golfer Gary Murphy recalled the period as his top-flight career drew to a close. Murphy’s recollection was not what you may have expected: how he secured an eagle three on a brutal par five at Carnoustie, or beat Tiger Woods 6 and 5 as the pair played for $5 a hole prior to the Masters.

Instead, he shocked listeners by saying that towards the end of his career, he was chronically depressed yet didn't realise it.

"My lowest point was probably in 2011 where I played in an Irish Open - and I'm not afraid to say this - and I was teeing off around midday on the Thursday and I was crying on the putting green before I went on the first tee. I shouldn't have even been there."

Paul McGee, a young Dubliner who burst onto England’s football scene in 1989, netting a crucial goal against Arsenal on his debut, had the tantalising prospect of a glittering top-flight career ahead of him. Unfortunately, this early promise has evaporated by the time readers of When The World Stops Watching are introduced to him, immediately after he’s discovered how best to knot a rope with which to hang himself and subsequently bought the rope from his local homeware shop.

We discover that McGee had agreed a £2.5m move from Wimbledon to Coventry only to suffer a freak injury in his final training session at Plough Lane which effectively ended his career.

Author Damian Lawlor has crafted an often eye-opening read. Not all retired sports stars enjoy chauffer-driven, television punditry roles. Nor have they made so much money they concentrate on developing their business interests.

“The road to retirement… can lead to wildly varying places,” writes Lawlor, who adds: “Athletes can suffer from loss of identity, depression, uncertainty and worthlessness. There is a struggle to fill days once packed with rigorous training, preparation and adrenalin of performance.”

The list of sixteen Irish sporting stars who describe the experience of transitioning from playing to permanent retirement includes Niall Quinn, Kevin Doyle, Grand Slam-winning rugby great Tommy Bowe and the former 5,000 metre world athletics champion Sonia O’Sullivan.

Their tales are unusually candid, the incidence of references to depression unusually high. It’s a side of sport we rarely encounter, which makes When The World Stops Watching such a compelling read.

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