This year sees the 18th annual publication of the best images in from the last year in GAA, A Season Of Sundays, illustrating the complete range of emotions and environments that the national sport is played in.
The book itself has become an institution in the GAA calendar, showcasing the magical and thrilling moments that help define the GAA season from start to finish, at all levels and in all codes.
The book’s creator, Ray McManus, from Sportsfile said: “Each GAA season is completely unique and this year has seen plenty of new talent emerge and new storylines unfold throughout the Championship. The team at Sportsfile have done another great job in telling these stories through the lens.”
Part of that team is veteran photographer Brendan Moran, who spoke to GazetteSport last week about the history and evolution of the annual publication.
“I’ve been working for sportsfile for 20 years, and 1997 was the first year that we brought the book out. The first cover picture was a picture of mine, and this year’s is as well, so I am kind of bookending things.
“The books over the years have captured how GAA has changed, how the volume of matches has increased, even the style of clothing and match preparations, the fact that the players back then were not as finely tuned and professional in their approach as they are now. It was very much you played for your parish and your county, whereas now, the dieticians and the weight training and the specific exercise they do is phenomenal, professional in all but name.”
It is not just the sport that has changed in that time, it is the process of photography itself – Moran explained that when he took pictures at his first All-Ireland, the team came back with 20 rolls of film with 36 shots on each – around 700 pictures in all. Sportsfile estimated that at the Donegal-Dublin football final this year, between all the sources, there were around 40,000 pictures taken.
“If we get a good shot, it would be considered – the coincidences are good to see as well as the planned ones and it falls into place. There is a great part of spontenaety, and that is the beauty of sport – there is no way of predicting what will happen. We have gone to All Irelands for years, and we just don’t know what the best shot will be – but everything falls into place.”
Among all of those pictures, Moran spoke about one of his favourites from this year when asked to pick out his personal best images.
“Lots of photographs are special, and lots of snappers say your best picture is your next one. But I do have my favourites. The picture of Alan Brogan with his son, Jamie, from this year’s All Ireland, the humanity that is in the picture makes it special. I just think there is great empathy, his dad is crying and Jamie is crying with him. It’s a father and son together, it could be anywhere, but it’s in a sporting context, and it’s one of my favourites.”
Moran is also clear when he describes the value of the book, and books like it, when he says that it affords people the opportunity to look back on the photographs that, although they maybe were not used at the time, sum up the sense of occasion, history and passion for the sport among spectators and players alike.
“Life is getting so fast now, it takes a step back to appreciate it. When people look at photographs, it brings back memories of where they were and who they were with, they come back with a smile. Over the years, as the book has developed, as we did it as a labour of love to show what we were interested in, the way people reacted to it was overwhelmingly positive.
“While we don’t realise the effect it has on people, it has an amazing effect on people. It’s a good reflection of the year, the highs and lows. It’s a reflection of the GAA season, and sometimes you need to sit back and remember all the things that happened, enjoy the moment.”
A Season of Sundays 2014, sponsored by Carroll’s, is now available at bookstores nationwide and online at www.sportsfile.com.