Book review - Health & Living - Gaelic and gangsters

Sinéad Hamill is a new Dublin author who is testimony to the fact that it is never too late to take up a new pursuit. Having come to GAA football in her forties through the Dublin-based Kilmacud Crokes ‘Gaelic for Mothers’ team, this venture into the world of GAA has also been the inspiration for her first gritty and humorous novel Scumbags and handbags.

The genesis of the book – which, be warned, is not for the faint hearted – is a story in itself. The idea for the plot came during training sessions in all weathers with the mothers’ football team at Crokes. The book’s main character, Robbie King, took shape at a writers’ weekend in Askeaton, when a persistent rooster would awake Sinéad from her slumber. The first chapter was written as an exercise for the course, and from there, the novel took flight.

A Dublin criminal, Robbie, gets sentenced to community service at an affluent South Dublin GAA club and there the story unfolds. The tale surrounds Robbie and Tommy Boylan, one of the greatest GAA footballers to come out of Dublin. He accepts the challenge of training the novice mammies to play football. Enter the deranged criminal, the Hawk, and the ladies find themselves caught up in the middle of a €5 million drugs haul.

As they say, truth is stranger than fiction, and Sinéad has had an eventful couple of years herself. She was playing football, running marathons and had started work on the book, only to be diagnosed out of the blue in 2012 with atrial fibrillation. As a highly active and fit person, the diagnosis came as a big surprise.

She underwent cardioversion and was put on an anti-coagulant. However, two months later, she had a stroke while driving her two girls to school. Luckily, the preventive medication meant that the post-stroke effects were restricted to some temporary sight loss, which put paid for a while to work on the book.

Happily, ‘Scumbags and handbags’ was published before Christmas and is available in paperback from It can also be downloaded as an ebook on Kindle and other platforms.

– Geraldine Meagan

Book review - Health & Living - Gaelic and gangsters


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