Brought to book: Frankie reveals all…

Former Roscommon and St. Brigid’s footballer, Frankie Dolan, is set to reveal all in his autobiography ‘Outside of the Right’, which is due for release in early May. This week, Roscommon People journalist, Dan Dooner, gives his account of what it was like to work with the controversial star as Frankie opened up about his life and colourful career…

‘Stories grow legs, particularly in a small county like Roscommon’

Writing a book is a daunting task at the best of times, never mind when the country is in the middle of a full-blown lockdown! But working with Frankie Dolan on his autobiography ‘Outside of the Right’ was an opportunity I just couldn’t turn down when former Meath footballer turned publisher, Liam Hayes, called me out of the blue last April.

Before going on to establish Hero Books, Liam had been my editor when I started in journalism with the Lucan Gazette way back in the early 00s. Frankie’s book is being released as part of the company’s popular ‘Legends Series’, and Liam wanted a local journalist to help bring it together.

Meeting up may have been out of the question for most of last year, but the fact that Frankie is my local postman meant we could at least get the ball rolling while leaning on my garden wall.

In that initial meeting, Frankie told me he wanted to ‘set the record straight’ regarding his reputation as someone who courted trouble and controversy throughout his career.

“Stories grow legs, particularly in a small county like Roscommon,” he said. “Being a footballer was like being a wrestler in the World Wrestling Federation, I had this persona on the pitch that wasn’t really me”.

Weekly Zoom calls became the norm from then on as Frankie detailed his early life growing up in Athlone and Kiltoom as well as his career on the soccer and football pitches of Athlone, Roscommon and even Germany.

Talking about the game of Gaelic football comes naturally to Frankie but he struggled at times to open up about life away from the pitch.

The sessions where we discussed his home life in Kiltoom and his own mental health would eventually lead to Frankie providing important insights into some of the issues inter-county footballers face when the floodlights fade.

In ‘Outside of the Right’, Frankie talks openly about his on-field success as well as the off-field controversies, some of which led to dark periods in his life.

This is his attempt to give his side of the story and address the public perception that he was a maverick footballer with discipline problems.

Of course, the infamous ‘Naked Pool’ episode is recounted but so too is the fall-out which led to him seeking time away from football and Ireland in general.

Frankie speaks lovingly of his wife Caroline and two sons, Ryen and Jack, and even provides a detailed account of his not-so-fairytale-like proposal in New York City!

The book contains previously untold stories of off-field shenanigans with the Roscommon senior and U-21 teams as well as his beloved St. Brigid’s, and even looks back on an infamous fishing expedition with brother and former teammate, Garvan.

When we started this project, I, like most Gaelic football fans, had a preconception of who Frankie Dolan was. It was only by hearing his side of the story that I got to know the man behind the footballing persona.

With the GAA season set to resume in May, I can only hope this book provides readers with a humourous and thought-provoking trip down memory lane as well as a new understanding of the man behind some of Roscommon football’s most infamous headlines.