In 1999, the hurlers of St Joseph's Doora-Barefield won the All-Ireland club championship. That winter, they became only the second club in history to win successive Munster club titles, and the following March they became the only Munster club to reach successive All-Ireland club finals. Ten years on, St Joseph's is in a totally different place, well down the pecking order not just nationally, but in County Clare. the senior team is still spearheaded by many members of the 1999 All-Ireland winning team, who are raging at the dying of the light. At the beginning of the 2009 season, the team, club and parish were deeply wounded by two family tragedies. One of those tragedies - the sudden death of one member of the 1999 team - cut deep into the soul of the senior team. And that was not the last tragedy to strike the club ... As part of the healing process, the senior team made a pact to honour the memory of those lost by defying the odds and becoming county champions once again. A campaign fuelled by emotion and pain began promisingly, but slowly began to unravel into one of the stormiest and controversial in the club's history. The story of St Joseph's Doora-Barefield is unique; but it is also a story that anyone connected with one of the 1,700 other GAA clubs will relate to. From player infighting to player-management stand-offs, team-bonding and on-pitch battles, The Club is a chronicle of the 2009 season told with unflinching honesty by Christy O'Connor, who covers GAA for the Sunday Times and who has been the St Joseph's senior team goalkeeper for 20 years. This is a story like no other, a fly-on-the-wall tale of the effort, agony and struggles that define the journey undertaken every season by every club side. This is grass-roots GAA at its purest and rawest, a great story brilliantly told.
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