Perhaps it was fitting that Emmet Ryan began his great journey watching Glenswilly win the RTÉ Raidió na Gaeltachta SFC for the first time in 2011.
Ryan, a native of Dun Laoghaire, began his first book ‘Tactics Not Passion’ at MacCumhaill Park in Ballybofey as Michael Murphy blitzed St Michael’s.
It’s a book on the strategy involved in Gaelic football, which also chronicled Donegal’s All-Ireland win of 2012.
The remarkable story of how the team evolved from 2011, when Donegal’s critics were lining up to slate their defensive priorities following the 0-8 to 0-6 All-Ireland semi-final loss to Dublin, to winning Sam Maguire is studiously documented.
“I was one of the few advocates for Jim McGuinness approach to inter-county football back when it was heresy to do so in 2011 and that year’s county final, where Glenswilly knocked off St Michael’s, was the first game covered is my debut book,” Ryan said.
Glenswilly, of course, repeated their success of 2011 this year with a gameplan devised that is best suited to the players they have available combined with unparalleled, locally at least, levels of strategic preparation.
The book successfully manages to peel off the surface on Gaelic football, its tactics, teams and formations.
Ryan, who initially began blogging his thoughts on sport in 2010, has just released his second book, titled ‘Victory Loves Preparation.’
The book begins with St Eunan’s narrow victory over Naomh Conaill in the 2012 SFC and then meanders through Donegal’s attempts to retain the All-Ireland championship.
He had to explain why Donegal came up short in 2013 as well as the rise to prominence of Jim Gavin’s new-look Dublin side.
With a detailed look at the club game, and how tactics are changing all the way down to junior and juvenile level, Ryan tries to bring ordinary fans inside the minds of the men tasked with guiding their teams to glory or despair.
It’s not enough to say what went wrong, GAA fans deserve to know why it went wrong.
“There’s a massive shift in Irish sport – and a welcome one – to forensic analysis of why and how things happened as opposed to a simple retelling of what happened.
“Emmet Ryan is undoubtedly part of that movement,” said Ger Gilroy of Newstalk’s Off the Ball.
Ryan is already looking forward to 2014 to see how Donegal’s footballing fortunes - and the sport itself - will evolve.