Paul O'Connell and Brian O'Driscoll after a game at the Aviva in 2014 Picture: Sportsfile
TWO former titans of Irish rugby have gone head-to-head, with Munster and Ireland rugby legend Paul O'Connell emerging as the victor over his Leinster counterpart in Ireland's publishing stakes.
O'Connell's autobiography The Battle has now beaten Brian O'Driscoll's The Test, based on sales figures for the first 12 weeks of its release.
While BOD's book by far claimed the highest number of book sales in the UK market, O'Connell has claimed the Irish market by a clear margin.
Over 12 weeks, sales of The Battle climbed to 66,217 copies - worth some €1.7m to date - by the week end of December 24, with a phenomenal 17,841 copies selling in that final week.
The Test by the former captain of the British and Irish Lions sold 55,227 copies in Ireland over 12 weeks, having been published on October 23, 2014 – nearly 11,000 copies shy of O'Connell's sales so far.
“We’d be a bit biased here in Munster, but Paul O’Connell, I think, has more appeal for a lot of people,” said Ian Buckley, secretary of the Munster Rugby Supporters’ Club.
“There’s a humbleness about Paul that people gravitate towards a bit more, and he’s hugely visible in lots of communities in Limerick, especially doing the Team Limerick Clean-Up [with JP McManus], and his Aldi campaign probably helped too.
"With Brian, there was a long goodbye to his career, whereas Paul didn’t have that. It’s very subjective to say that Paul’s more popular [than Brian], but in Munster he absolutely is,” Mr Buckley told the Limerick Leader.
“He won’t make much of having more sales than Brian, but maybe they’ll have a text messages between themselves, and a bit of ribbing.”
However, in total The Test sold more than 106,000 copies in some three months between the Irish and UK markets, stunning his publishers that there was nearly an equal demand for the book in both territories.
Across the water, O’Connell’s autobiography has now sold over 18,000 copies to date, Penguin has confirmed.
Both books were co-authored by Alan English, former editor of the Limerick Leader newspaper, and now editorial director of Iconic Newspapers, of which the Leader is among 13 papers under its control.
While English was drafted in at a late stage to finish The Test, after writer Paul Kimmage dropped out of the project, he spent some seven years working on The Battle with O'Connell.
O'Connell, who scooped sports book of the year at the annual Bord Gais Energy book awards, has remained typically modest about its success.
“I think to write a book about yourself is a difficult thing to do. For me anyway I felt very awkward. I still feel awkward when I walk past it in a shop, and see it for sale. I was really happy with what we produced,” he said.