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'Lakeside Legends' book to be launched tonight

Story by Tom Kelly

Thursday, 29th November, 2012 11:46am

'Lakeside Legends' book to be launched tonight

The front cover of 'Lakeside Legends', which will be launched in the Annebrook House Hotel in Mullingar tonight (Thursday, November 29).

'Lakeside Legends' - a book filled with stats relating to Westmeath GAA - is set to be launched by GAA President Liam O'Neill in Mullingar tonight (Thursday).

Twelve years ago, Westmeath Gaelic games fanatic and sports columnist Gerry Buckley marked the millennium with a treat for Lake County GAA fans.

'The Millennium Handbook of Westmeath Gaelic Games' was the outstanding result of years of work and research by Gerry - a labour of love full of stats, photos and profiles of the county's great Gaels and clubs.

When the book was published, Westmeath was on the cusp of its greatest era. It arrived five years after the county's minor footballers won an All-Ireland title, and a year after the U21s achieved the same.

"People often said to me: 'When are you going to update that book?', and I'd tell them I'd leave it another ten years," Gerry said last week. "And a lot's happened since."

Indeed it has; a year after the 'Millennium Handbook' went to press, Westmeath won a Division 2 NFL title, and reached an All-Ireland quarter-final under Luke Dempsey. In 2004, Páidí " Sé's stewardship brought a Leinster SFC title, as the Maroons again came ever so close to an All-Ireland semi. Four players picked up All-Stars in that period of unprecedented glory.

On the hurling front, there was further joy, with three Christy Ring Cups bagged, and great strides made towards getting Westmeath over that hurdle of 'middle tier' status.

So Gerry's new book, 'Lakeside Legends' (504 pp, €10) - which launches this Thursday - is a welcome compendium not just of records from the entire history of Westmeath GAA, but one that stands as a monument to those halcyon days between 1995 and 2008.

"I've been tipping away it for the last couple of years," Gerry said. "In a nutshell, it's a collection of Westmeath football and hurling stats, records and team photos from the early days of 20th century to the end of October 2012.

"There's a special emphasis on inter-county matters, and there's stuff at the start about our All-Stars and All-Ireland winners. Past administrators are listed in detail.

"On the club side, there's a lot more detail in it than the first book when it comes to records of non-senior grades."

The book was produced in association with Westmeath GAA County Board.

Paddy's helping hand

Naturally, all of this required a great deal of research on Gerry's part, including a number of visits to the National Library. More often than not, he was ensconced at the office of one of Westmeath's greatest GAA administrators, Paddy Flanagan.

"I'm totally indebted to Paddy for the help he gave me," said Gerry. "Paddy Flanagan has forgotten more about Westmeath GAA than I'll ever know."

While Gerry will be eternally grateful to those who helped him to put the book together, he is especially thankful to the advertisers who supported it. Of the clubs he circulated for an advertising contribution, some 22 came on board.

'Lakeside Legends' is an ideal stocking filler for Lake County Gaels this Christmas, and it's a steal at €10 - in happier economic times, it would easily have retailed for twice that fee.

It will be officially launched by GAA President Liam O'Neill at the Annebrook House Hotel, Mullingar this Thursday night, November 29 (8.30pm), and everyone is welcome to attend.

The book is available to purchase in the Westmeath Independent offices on Sean Costello Street, Athlone.

It is also in shops around the county from December 1, or directly from Gerry (postage free) at 087 363 4219 (no private number callers please).

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